Why everyone is talking about King Charles III's 'sausage fingers'

King Charles has been dominating headlines as he rises to the helm of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth realms following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, last week. 

The former Prince of Wales, 73, has long proved a divisive figure following his turbulent marriage to and highly publicised divorce from the late Diana, Princess of Wales, a union racked with infidelity. The royal has also been embroiled in his fair share of scandals, including allegations of racism, reportedly dodgy donations, and in 2015, Charles was also accused of attempting to influence the British government.

But now, something else to do with the controversial king is causing quite a stir on social media, with many people expressing their shock at Charles' supposedly swollen, red fingers. Yes, the royal's supposedly dumpy digits have once again returned to public discourse.

With Charles now firmly in the spotlight, many have been taking to Twitter to mock the new monarch's mitts, with one troll quipping: "Whoever can pull that ring off his finger will become the next king like Arthur with that sword in the stone."

"I swear to God if I see Prince Charles' fingers on this site one more time," snarked another, alongside a pic of red hotdogs. 

According to reports, the king has previously been self-deprecating about his digits, referring to himself as "sausage fingers" in a letter to a friend before the birth of his eldest son and heir apparent, Prince William.

But poking fun at Charles' girthy grippers has also led to speculation regarding the possible cause of his oft-bloated hands, prompting a doctor to weigh in with his thoughts. 

King Charles III
Charles attends the Braemar Highland Gathering at The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park on September 3, 2022 in Braemar, Scotland. Photo credit: Getty Images

Dr Gareth Nye, senior lecturer at the University of Chester, spoke to the Daily Star about what Charles' red, apparently swollen hands and fingers could mean for his health. Although Dr Nye noted that "loads of conditions" could be behind his bloated fingers, oedema - or fluid retention - is probably most likely. 

"Oedema is a condition where the body starts to retain fluids in the limbs, normally the legs and ankles but also in the fingers, which causes them to swell," Dr Nye told the Daily Star.

"Oedema is a common condition and mostly affects people over the age of 65 as the ability for fluid control is restricted.

"To see if this is the cause, pressing the swollen area for about 15 seconds would cause a depression in the area."

An example of Charles' "sausage fingers".
An example of Charles' "sausage fingers". Photo credit: Getty Images

According to the doctor, arthritis is another possibility, which often affects the joints in the thumb and fingers.

"Fingers usually become stiff, painful and swollen and although medication can help with the pain, the swelling can remain," he added. 

Other less common causes of swelling include a diet high in sodium and medications such as blood pressure pills and steroids.

"There aren't any immediate health concerns to be concluded from swollen fingers and is most likely a sign of his age," Dr Nye said. 

However, Charles' "sausage fingers" still seem to be functioning as they should, with the monarch using his hands to sign many a document in recent days; including the the Accession Proclamation, during which he gestured at staff to clear the desk after becoming frustrated at the pen tray.