CONTROVERSIAL BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell has been slammed over making “grossly intrusive” comments about the Queen’s health.

The BBC journalist – once described as an “awful man” by Prince Charles – has been criticised for his reporting on Thursday after a momentous announcement from Buckingham Palace that the Queen was in ill health and that her family were travelling to Balmoral to be with her.

The broadcaster has suspended all normal programming amid concern for the monarch's health.

Witchell made comments speculating the Queen had cancer and noted the “gradual deterioration” in her health over the past year.

He added: “It comes back to this issue… it is merely this mobility issue or whether there is and has been something else.

“And I think we can be candid, there have been rumours of cancers – no, of course, confirmation and one wouldn’t expect there to be, because there is an insistence by members of the Royal Family and this is reflected by royal officials, that these matters are private.

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“Doesn’t matter who you are, you are still entitled to private patient confidentiality.”

He made other comments about her weight loss following the death of her husband Prince Philip as well as making reference to a fall she suffered last year. He claimed the Palace had attempted to keep that "secret”.

Anita Singh, the Daily Telegraph’s arts and entertainment editor tweeted: “Nicholas Witchell currently speculating that the Queen has had cancer, that she had a fall last year, that she has gout, that she recently had a cannula in her hand - feels grossly intrusive to discuss someone's health like this.

“While grouching that Buckingham Palace hasn't kept him fully informed on these matters.”

Owen Jones, a republican and socialist commentator, added: “If there's one thing that unites deeply fractured nation in uncertain times, it's surely that Nicholas Witchell is a massive idiot.”

Rupert Myers, a barrister and pundit, said: “Dear god [BBC News] can you stop Nicholas Witchell (who read law at Leeds, not medicine) from speculating on the specifics of the Queen's illness? It is extremely tasteless.”

The National has approached the BBC for comment.