‘It means a great deal’: William thankful for support

Danica Kirka |

The Prince of Wales at an investiture ceremony where he made footballer Ellen White an MBE.
The Prince of Wales at an investiture ceremony where he made footballer Ellen White an MBE.

Prince William has thanked the public for “kind messages of support” as he returned to royal duties in the wake of his wife’s surgery and King Charles’ cancer diagnosis.

Appearing at a charity gala on Wednesday, the Prince of Wales spoke for the first time about his family’s health scares.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the kind messages of support for Catherine and for my father, especially in recent days,” William told London’s Air Ambulance Charity. 

“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,” he added jokingly.

The royal, who is a former air ambulance helicopter pilot, met fellow pilots and chatted with guests including Hollywood star Tom Cruise at the black-tie event. 

Tom Cruise and Prince William
Hollywood star Tom Cruise was among guests at the charity gala in London. (AP PHOTO)

William temporarily stepped away from public duties last month to help care for Kate and their three young children following her operation for an undisclosed condition. 

The Princess of Wales isn’t expected to resume public duties until April.

Charles’ cancer diagnosis earlier this week is putting extra pressure on the royal family, with the King suspending his public appearances to focus on treatment and recovery. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was expected to call the King on Wednesday evening to wish him well as he recovers. In-person audiences are expected to resume later this month.

Charles is continuing with behind-the-scenes work on his red boxes of state papers. 

Downing Street took the unusual step of confirming details about Sunak’s weekly audience with the King, following an agreement with Buckingham Palace.

The Monarch’s illness comes at an awkward time for the House of Windsor.

The King, who ascended the throne just 17 months ago, has pledged to reduce the cost of the monarchy, in part by keeping a lid on the number of “working royals” whose public duties are supported by taxpayer funds.

But with two of the most visible family members out sick, it will be more challenging for the family to keep up.

King Charles
King Charles was seen in public for the first time since his diagnosis leaving Clarence House. (AP PHOTO)

In addition to the widely publicised pomp and ceremony of royal processions and state visits, the Windsors attend hundreds of little-known events every year to recognise the accomplishments of the general public and mark local events such as the opening of libraries and community centres. 

Hundreds of charities cherish royal appearances, which give visibility and credibility to their good work among potential donors.

The 75-year-old King was seen in public for the first time since his cancer diagnosis when he left his offices at Clarence House on Tuesday after a brief reunion with his younger son, Prince Harry.

Harry arrived in London from the United States less than 24 hours after Buckingham Palace announced the cancer diagnosis. 

The meeting raised hopes the pair can repair their troubled relationship after Harry publicly criticised the royal family and complained about the way his American wife, former actor Meghan Markle, was treated by palace officials.

Harry and Meghan, once seen as stars of the royal family who could help the Windsors connect with a younger generation, walked away from royal duties in 2020 and now live in California.