Prince William thanks public for support following King’s cancer diagnosis and Princess of Wales's surgery

Prince William poses for a photo with US actor Tom Cruise at the London Air Ambulance Charity Gala Dinner at The OWO in central London (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince William poses for a photo with US actor Tom Cruise at the London Air Ambulance Charity Gala Dinner at The OWO in central London (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Prince William has spoken publicly for the first time about the King’s cancer diagnosis, thanking the public for their support.

Arriving at a gala dinner for the London Air Ambulance Charity in central London, the Prince of Wales said: "We really appreciate everyone's kind messages. Thank you".

In a later speech William, who is patron of the charity, also thanked the public for the support given to the Princess of Wales since her abdominal surgery.

He 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.”

He added: "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."

At a reception before dinner the future king mingled with guests inside, including actor Tom Cruise, after his arrival at the event at the Raffles hotel.

William, a former air ambulance helicopter pilot, met crews from London's service and chatted to Cruise, who is a supporter of the charity, and the latest line-up of the 1970s disco group Sister Sledge.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

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."

Co-host for the evening, presenter Tanya Bryer, made a point of telling the audience, after William had made his way to his seat, that all their “best wishes” were being sent to His Majesty.

The audience, that also included Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, clapped and there were calls of “hear hear” as William smiled and encouraged his table - including Cruise - to sit down.

Jonathan Jenkins, chief executive of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, thanked the prince for attending at such a difficult time, saying: “I think I speak on behalf of everybody at the London Air Ambulance family, and everyone else in this room, that we send you at this particular time our love, our best wishes and our support to you and your family and, in particular, the King.”

He added that the charity were ‘”immensely privileged” to have William as patron “not because he is a senior member of the royal family, not because he is next in line to the throne but because to us he is one of us. Prince William is a former air ambulance pilot. So he gets what we do. And that’s incredibly important and powerful for us as a service.”

William makes his speech (PA)
William makes his speech (PA)

The event was one of William’s first engagements since returning to work on Wednesday.

He had taken time off to support his family after the Princess of Wales underwent planned abdominal surgery on January 16, and returned to public duties once Kate's care and recovery had settled.The future king earlier hosted a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony where he received "good wishes" for his father, who earlier this week underwent his first treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer.

Former England striker Ellen White, who was made an MBE for services to football, passed on to William her "best wishes" for the King, and sympathised with the monarchy, saying it must be a "difficult time for the family."Earlier on Wednesday, the Duke of Sussex was spotted at Heathrow Airport as he headed back to Califronia after a 24-hour visit to London to see his father.

Prince William waves at the London Air Ambulance Charity Gala Dinner (REUTERS)
Prince William waves at the London Air Ambulance Charity Gala Dinner (REUTERS)

The King called Harry to tell him the news of his cancer diagnosis, with the duke travelling 5,000 miles from his home in the US following the shock newsHe spent less than an hour with the King on Tuesday but did not meet William despite some hopes that the news of their father’s illness would spark a royal reconciliation.

Charles looked relaxed later that day when, as he returned to Sandringham, he was seen in public for the first time since his cancer diagnosis was announced by Buckingham Palace on Monday.The King's cancer treatment as an outpatient started earlier this week, and he returned, with the Queen, to his Sandringham home in Norfolk on Tuesday after seeing Harry.

Charles has postponed all public-facing duties, but is continuing with behind-the-scenes work on his red boxes of state papers.

Downing Street took the unusual step of confirming details about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's weekly audience with the King, following an agreement with Buckingham Palace, and said it would be heldover the phone on Wednesday.