Supportive messages for Charles and Kate ‘mean a great deal to us all’ – William

Supportive messages for Charles and Kate ‘mean a great deal to us all’ – William

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.

The Prince of Wales, shares a joke with Tom Cruise at the charity gala dinner
The Prince of Wales shares a joke with Tom Cruise at the charity gala dinner (Daniel Leal/PA)

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.”

Charles and Camilla leaving Clarence House on Tuesday
Charles and Camilla leaving Clarence House on Tuesday (PA)

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.”

Jonathan Jenkins, chief executive officer of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, also passed on the support of his organisation, telling William they were sending: “Our love, our best wishes and our support to you, your family and obviously (His Majesty)”

The gala dinner is raising funds for London’s Air Ambulance Charity’s Up Against Time appeal, which is nearing its £15 million target to replace the service’s helicopter fleet by the autumn.

London’s Air Ambulance charity gala
The Prince of Wales, Patron of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, with actor Tom Cruise (Daniel Leal/PA)

In his speech, William said: “Here in London, the current aircraft have served magnificently. But our capital city needs a new fleet.

“And we are Up Against Time. The clue really is in the appeal’s name. By September, we need the two new red birds – decked with the latest kit such as night vision – in our skies.”

He went on to praise Cruise, who is a supporter of the charity and has donated gifts to be raffled later.

William told him: “And Tom, if you wouldn’t mind not borrowing either of the new helicopters for the next Mission Impossible, it would be appreciated.

“We have all seen on our screens that – how can I put it – you seem to have a different take on ‘normal wear and tear’ to the rest of us. It’s not the kind that buffs out.”

London’s Air Ambulance charity gala
The Prince of Wales, Patron of London’s Air Ambulance Charity (Daniel Leal/PA)

Earlier, William hosted a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony where 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 later sympathised with the monarchy saying it must be a “difficult” time for the royal family.

But there was no meeting between the estranged siblings William and Harry, who have had a fractured relationship for a number of years, exacerbated after the Sussexes stepped down as working royals, moved to America and aired a string of grievances against the royal family.

Charles has postponed all public-facing duties, but is continuing with behind-the-scenes work on his red boxes of state papers and took a private call from Rishi Sunak earlier.

William may step in to represent his father at an event, but no engagements are scheduled at the moment and the royal palaces will make arrangements if the need arises.

Kate left hospital last Monday and returned to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor to be reunited with her three children, but the 42-year-old future queen is not expected to return to official duties until after Easter.