Prince William thanked the public for their “kind messages” in the wake of King Charles’ shock cancer diagnosis as he arrived at a gala for the London Air Ambulance Wednesday evening. William said: “We really appreciate everyone’s kind messages. Thank you.”
At the gala itself, William 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!”
It was William’s second official function of the day; earlier he had stood in for Charles at a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony. William was joined at the gala by actor Tom Cruise.
“This is Tom Cruise, needs no introduction,” William, who is patron of London Air Ambulance, said.
In reference to his wearing of themed slippers—velvet shoes with fighter jets embroidered on them—to the premier of the Top Gun: Maverick premiere two years ago, William said to the Hollywood star: “I haven’t got my Top Gun slippers on tonight.”
In his speech, William said the U.K. capital urgently needed two new helicopters (“red birds”), hence London Air Ambulance’s current “Up Against Time” fundraising appeal.
Addressing Cruise, William added, “I should also take this opportunity to give a mention to my—our fellow pilot, Tom Cruise. Tom, huge thanks for supporting us tonight. 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.”
The Telegraph reported that gala co-host, the presenter Tanya Bryer, had said all their “best wishes” were being sent to the king. “The audience clapped and there were calls of ‘hear hear’ as William smiled and encouraged his table—including Cruise—to sit down,” the paper said.
Jonathan Jenkins, chief executive of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, said in his speech: “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 His Majesty.”
William’s day of royal business came as brother Prince Harry returned to America following his lightning 24-hour trip to the U.K., which included a half-hour meeting with Charles.
The Times of London reported sources close to Charles were “eager to stress that the brevity of the visit was not a slight to his younger son, but merely an indication of the 75-year-old King’s fatigue after the previous day’s hospital procedure.”
Sources close to Prince William said he “had made it clear” that he would not be meeting his brother, the Times of London reported; the two have reportedly not spoken to each other in over a year. The source said: “There is no plan, nothing in the diary.”
Sources also said that William’s “priority” remains his own family, with wife Kate Middleton still recuperating from abdominal surgery. A source told The Daily Mail: “The Prince has always made clear that his priority is to support his wife and family for the time being—and he did not put a timescale on that. He will make a return to duties on Wednesday, but you should not expect to see him again for a bit after that.”
Charles has reportedly given William his “100%” backing. A source told the Mail: “The King adores Catherine and thinks she is doing a wonderful job. He understands that family comes first.” Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace are reportedly discussing what events William can stand in for Charles at.
Both King Charles and Queen Camilla are “coping magnificently” in the wake of his cancer diagnosis and beginning of treatment, a source told The Times of London. The source added: “If you didn’t know what was the matter, you wouldn’t have any idea that he had any condition at all.”