The Prince of Wales has spoken about the King’s cancer diagnosis for the first time and thanked the public for their “kind messages of support”.
William’s words of praise, delivered during a fundraising gala dinner, also recognised those who wished the Princess of Wales well, as she recovers from planned abdominal surgery.
He told the guests: “It means a great deal to us all.”
The heir to the throne was back at work on Wednesday supporting the King as his brother, the Duke of Sussex, travelled home to America following a whirlwind trip to see their father.
William had taken time off to support his family after Kate’s operation on January 16, and returned to public duties once her care and recovery had settled.
But his first day back on duty came as the royal family was dealing with the health scare surrounding his father, the head of state whose reign will pass the 17-month mark on Thursday.
William gave his pre-dinner speech at the event, raising funds for London’s Air Ambulance Charity’s new fleet of helicopters, where guests included Hollywood star Tom Cruise and Arsenal football club manager Mikel Arteta.
The prince said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you, also, for the kind messages of support for Catherine and for my father, especially in recent days. It means a great deal to us all.
“It’s fair to say the past few weeks have had a rather medical focus, so I thought I’d come to an air ambulance function to get away from it all.”
When William first arrived at Raffles London, a luxury hotel in Westminster, a member of the press called out some words of support and the prince acknowledged them with a wave and replied: “We really appreciate everyone’s kind messages, thank you.”
At a reception before the dinner, William, a former air ambulance helicopter pilot, met crews from London’s service and chatted to Cruise and the latest line-up of the 1970s disco group Sister Sledge.
William joked about a pair of custom slippers he wore at the Top Gun: Maverick film premiere, telling the actor, who starred in the sequel: “I haven’t got my Top Gun slippers on”.
Cruise quipped: “I miss them.”
After guests had taken their seats in the banqueting room they applauded after host and broadcaster Tania Bryer said: “We would like to extend our best wishes to His Majesty the King.”
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