King Charles fingers

A very, very serious investigation into why King Charles has sausage fingers

Wait til you see the state of his feet

King Charles is pretty inescapable at the minute. But it’s not for the reasons you might think. It’s not because he was officially crowned as monarch at the weekend in a ceremony which brought London to a standstill and was watched by more than 18 million people around the country. No, far more importantly, it’s about his fingers.

Keen royalists have known for years about the state of Charles’ swollen fingers.

In fact, the Queen commented on the state of Charles’ fingers as soon as he was born. Writing to her former music teacher in November 1948 just after Charles’ birth, the Queen described his “interesting pair of hands”, adding “they are rather large”.

But there’s nothing like a coronation to shine a spotlight on their grandiose appearance. TikTok has erupted this weekend as the usual suspects of clout chasers and TikTok ‘detectives’ sleuth through old footage to share theories and ideas about the mystery.

Why are King Charles’ swollen fingers referred to as ‘sausage fingers’

Admittedly it’s not the nicest comparison in the world. Of all the meats to be compared to, I’m not sure having your fingers and Cumberland sausages in the same sentence is ideal.

But it’s a phrase that Charles himself has endorsed. Quoted in a 2007 biography, Charles said about the birth of Prince William: “I can’t tell you how excited and proud I am. He really does look surprisingly appetising and has sausage fingers just like mine.”

In 2018, William got in on the joke. At Charles’ 70th birthday celebration, he quipped he wished Charles’ “sausage fingers” would stop writing so many letters and instead spend more time with his grandchildren.

But beyond all the references, what’s the cause behind their strange appearance? Here’s a very serious investigation into why King Charles has such swollen fingers and what on earth caused it.

Theory one: Oedema

Not so much suggested by actual doctors but one that has been all over Twitter and TikTok this weekend and worth investigating all the same.

Oedema is the (rather fancy) medical term for the build up of fluid which leaves legs, ankles and feet swollen.

The NHS website lists numerous causes for the condition. Among them are “standing or sitting in the same position for too long”, “eating too much salty food”, “being overweight” or a whole list of specific medicines including blood pressure medicines, contraceptive pills, hormone therapy, steroids and antidepressants.

Even the most outlandish TikTok detective is going to have a hard time convincing viewers some of these symptoms are related to King Charles.

Arguments for: Just take a look at King Charles’ feet

Admittedly not something you are prone to Google every day but in the name of investigating, it’s important to look at King Charles’ feet.


Why does have Prince Charles have such swollen hands and feet?#princecharles #kingcharles #royalfamily #royals #fyp

♬ Merry-Go-Round – Joe Hisaishi

This video which has gone viral on TikTok shows then Prince Charles on a visit to a Sikh temple in New Dehli in 2019. Taking off his shoes and socks to enter the temple barefoot, he revealed swollen feet that certainly rival the state of his hands.

The images of his feet have strong similarities to NHS images which show people who suffer from oedema.

There are however numerous holes in this theory. While the NHS lists 10 different causes of the condition, so many of them have nothing to do with Charles. He’s not pregnant, equally he’s not overweight and it’s highly unlikely – given he’s had the condition for years – that it’s caused by an insect bite or sting.

While the other listed causes could apply to Charles, the condition focuses heavily on swollen ankles, feet or legs and the NHS website has absolutely zero mention of swollen fingers.

The NHS also advises sufferers to visit a GP if the swelling hasn’t improved after a few days or gets worse.

The Palace has never commented on King Charles’ fingers or suggested the issue is a serious condition. As such numerous doctors have suggested different theories.

Theory two: Travelling and hot weather

The second theory has been around the longest. For at least the last decade, there has been an ever-present cycle: Charles goes on a foreign tour to a Commonwealth country; he’s then photographed taking part in a local tradition; and then news sites speculate about the condition of his hands.

via SWNS

In 2019, Metro suggested the condition could be caused by water retention due to travelling and hot weather.

Arguments for: The worst pictures always come abroad

While travelling is almost certainly a more boring cause than oedema, it seems a lot more credible. The theory goes as you travel for long periods of time, you move a lot less and in some people, this lack of movement allows fluid to build up. After a few days the swelling then disappears as you go about your daily life.

King Charles fingers

via Shutterstock

The picture of Charles visiting a Sikh temple in 2019 came straight off the back of a non-stop nine hour flight to India which would be prime time to have swollen fingers.

Equally important to consider is Charles’ fingers are not always pictured looking red and swollen. Swelling due to travelling and hot weather helps explain when his hands look far more normal when taking part in engagements in the UK.

Charles pictured with no swollen fingers via SWNS

Theory three: Arthritis

Gareth Nye is a senior lecturer at the University of Chester. The physiology lecturer argued the condition could be a sign of arthritis.

He pointed out arthritis is common for people over the age of 60 and “often affects three main areas in the hand – the thumb joint or either joins in the fingers”.

He added: “Fingers usually become stiff, painful and swollen and although medication can help with the pain, the swelling can remain.”

King Charles fingers

In recent years, Charles has been photographed with his hands in his jacket pocket. via SWNS

These thoughts were echoed by another doctor. Dr Chun Tang, who has worked in the NHS for almost 20 years, told MailOnline: “There are numerous reasons a person may suffer with “sausage” fingers.

“Often puffy fingers are a symptom of water retention which can be caused by numerous health conditions. Sausage fingers are officially known as dactylitis.

“This condition arises due to inflammation and can be a result of arthritis, multiple bacterial infections or even TB.”

Arguments for: Backed up by the most medical experts

Away from social media, most doctors have pointed the swollen fingers point towards a form of arthritis. Unlike oedema, the condition is very common especially for people of Charles’ age.


The Palace has never explained the medical condition being King Charles sausage fingers. However, we know the Queen has spoken about his “interesting hands”, Charles himself referred to his own fingers as “sausage fingers” in a biography written about him and Prince William equally joked about them in a 2018 speech marking his 70th birthday.

All of this points to the idea the condition is unlikely to be very medically serious. And while he continues to not address the subject, medical experts will continue to speculate between whether it’s caused by travelling and climate or is a sign of arthritis. However, given Charles’ intention to modernise the Royal Family and make the firm seem more approachable, perhaps it won’t be long before he answers a Royal fan’s question on the topic.

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Featured image before edits via Shutterstock/Madhuram Paliwal