Prince William has thanked the nation for its ‘kind messages of support’ for his wife and father.
In a speech, the Prince of Wales said the heartfelt words of comfort received by his family following Kate’s hospitalisation for serious abdominal surgery and King Charles’ shock cancer diagnosis ‘means a great deal to us all’.
The day has been particularly busy day for the Prince – who is now the monarchy’s most prominent public figure – as he handed out more than 50 honours on behalf of the King.
The monarch is recuperating at Sandringham following his first cancer treatment and Kate is at home following abdominal surgery.
William was speaking at a glittering gala dinner in support of London’s Air Ambulance Charity at Raffles London at the OWO (Old War Office).
He broke off from caring for his wife and three young children at Windsor to undertake a day of engages, holding an investiture at Windsor Castle followed by the charity fundraising event.
William arrived at a gala dinner was in support of London’s Air Ambulance Charity tonight – of which the Prince is a patron
William was speaking at a glittering gala dinner in support of London’s Air Ambulance Charity at Raffles London at the OWO (Old War Office)
Prince William grins as he arrives at the gala to support the London Air Ambulance
To take William’s mind off the royal family’s woes there was some A-list Hollywood glitter, in the form of global superstar Tom Cruise
Just inside the venue, William could be seen chatting with the ‘We Are Family’ hit group, with Cruise laughing loudly as they joked at the entrance
Adding some glitz to the evening was Hollywood star Tom Cruise, who is a long term supporter of the organisation which delivers vital emergency medical treatment in the capital is trying to raise £15 million to replace its helicopter fleet.
As he entered the venue the Prince of Wales said he ‘really appreciates everyone’s kindness’ as he spoke out for the first time since the shock news that the King has been diagnosed with cancer.
The Prince of Wales – who served as an air ambulance pilot in East Anglia – has been patron of the organisation since 2020.
In a speech William, who has been keen in recent days to allow his father’s news to take centre stage, told his audience: ‘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!’
There was also a joke for Cruise, known for his daredevil high-flying film stunts, as the royal 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.
‘I should also take this opportunity to give a mention to my – our – fellow pilot, Tom Cruise. Tom, huge thanks for supporting us tonight.
In a speech William, who has been keen in recent days to allow his father’s news to take centre stage, told his audience that he was grateful for their support
The presence of the Top Gun star was particularly appropriate given that the gala is to support the London Air Ambulance, of which Cruise is, remarkably, an existing supporter
The Prince of Wales – who served as an air ambulance pilot in East Anglia – has been patron of the organisation since 2020
‘And 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, that’s for sure.’
It was only a brief moment in the spotlight for William, however, who will now return to Windsor with the king’s blessing, to care for his family.
The prince cleared his diary after the Princess of Wales was admitted to hospital on January 16 for what has only been described as ‘abdominal surgery’. She required a two-week hospital stay and will not resume public duties until after Easter.
The heir to the throne is unlikely to be seen in public now for another 10 days at least.
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 His Royal Highness [meaning the King].’
He added that they were ‘immensely privilege have his Royal Highness 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. ‘
Singer Debbie Sledge told the Mail that she had told the prince she was praying for his father, the King.
‘I hadn’t planned to and I haven’t met His Majesty or any of the Royal Family before but I felt so strongly that I should. They are good people,’ she said.
‘My hearts go out to them all.’
As William undertook his first day of engagements for three weeks, his estranged brother, Prince Harry, jetted back out of Britain after a whirlwind 24-hour visit.
The Duke of Sussex flew to London to meet with the King on Tuesday for the first time in 17 months, spending less than 45 minutes with him at Clarence House, his London residence.
The King, accompanied by Queen Camilla, left immediately afterwards by helicopter for Sandringham, his Norfolk estate.
Harry remained in the UK overnight, departing from the VIP suite at Heathrow Airport yesterday lunchtime to catch a scheduled flight back to California.
Looking smart in a black dinner jacket and bow tie, he arrived at Ruffles new London hotspot, Raffles London in Horseguards Avenue, at 7.20pm
Hollywood star Tom laughed as Wills joked about the last time they had met – when he was wearing Top Gun slippers
William was introduced to by reality star Mark-Francis Vandelli, a charity committee member, to some of the VIP guests including Sister Sledge
One member of Sister Sledge told the Prince that she was praying for his father. William smiled and thanked her
While some saw the fact the meeting between father, 75, and son, 39, had even taken place as a cause for optimism that relations could begin to be repaired, others expressed their surprise and asked what Harry’s motivation for making the 11,000-mile round-trip was.
‘Guilt?’ one royal insider remarked to the Mail.
Buckingham Palace has flatly refused to comment on the meeting, as have the Sussexes spokespeople at Archewell in a bid to keep relations civil given His Majesty’s serious health issues.
Looking smart in a black velvet dinner jacket and bow tie, he arrived at Ruffles new London hotspot, Raffles London in Horseguards Avenue, at 7.20pm.
Speaking to reporters gathered outside the venue, he said: ‘We really appreciate everyone’s kind messages. Thank you.’
Once inside, the Prince could be seen shaking hands with the Hollywood star – before they posed up for pictures together and were heard complimenting each others outfits.
The Black and White gala raised more than £1million last year, and the charity hopes that the event will help them to replace two aging helicopters by September.
The Prince was introduced by reality TV star Mark-Francis Vandelli, a charity committee member, to some of the VIP guests, including Grammy-award winning ’70s disco band Sister Sledge, who will be performing at the event.
The Black and White gala raised more than £1million last year, and the charity hopes that the event will help them to replace two aging helicopters by September
The Prince arrived at the plush venue at 7.20pm, talking briefly to gathered reporters
Inside the hotel he was introduced in the ‘Code One’ room – the building was the Old War Office – to a number of pilots and paramedics who volunteer for the charity
Just inside the venue, William could be seen chatting with the He’s the Greatest Dancer hit group, with Cruise laughing loudly as they joked at the entrance.
He was introduced to by reality star Mark-Francis Vandelli, a charity committee member, to some of the VIP guests including Sister Sledge.
He then turned and said: ‘This is Tom Cruise, needs no introduction.’
The two men, who have met before, greeted each other warmly and also stood side by side for photos smiling, joking at each other’s tuxedos.
William, who wore Top Gun themed slippers to the premier of Maverick two years ago, looked down at his feet and turned to Tom and said: ‘I haven’t got my Top Gun slippers on.’ Hollywood star Tom laughed as Wills headed into another room.
Cruise has a long history with, and well known affection for, the Royal family.
He made a surprise appearance at Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations in 2022 but his association extends back to the time he met William’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales, at the 1992 Leceister Square premiere of Far and Away, in which he starred with then-wife Nicole Kidman.
One member of Sister Sledge told the Prince that she was praying for his father. William smiled and thanked her.
Lady Eliza Spencer, William’s cousin, stunned in a white gown as she attended the star-studded gala alongside her twin sister Lady Amelia Spencer, in glittering black
Lady Violet Manners, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, attended the speech in an elegant cream
The Queen’s nephew and godson David Armstrong-Jones, second Earl of Snowdon looked smart as he entered the venue
TV personality Tamara Beckwith (left) wore an elaborate white gown while model and TikToker Delphi Primrose (right) looked regal in a black and gold combination
Co-host for the evening, presenter Tania 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 clapped and there were calls of ‘hear hear’ as William smiled and encouraged his table – including Cruise – to sit down.
Among the star-studded crowd, a number of royals showed their support for the family.
Lady Eliza Spencer, William’s cousin, stunned in a white gown as she attended the star-studded gala alongside her twin sister Lady Amelia Spencer, in glittering black
Lady Violet Manners, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, arrived in an elegant cream dress while the Queen’s nephew and godson David Armstrong-Jones, second Earl of Snowdon looked smart in black tie.
It is hosted by CNBC broadcaster Tania Bryer and Made in Chelsea and Celebs Go Dating star Mark-Francis Vandelli.
The charity has helped deliver lifesaving treatment to more than 45,000 people since its foundation in 1989 and the future king has often spoken of how much his time working for East Anglia Air Ambulance meant to him and inspired his future work.
Inside the hotel he was introduced in the ‘Code One’ room – the building was the Old War Office – to a number of pilots and paramedics who volunteer for the charity.
The gala was hosted by CNBC broadcaster Tania Bryer and Made in Chelsea and Celebs Go Dating star Mark-Francis Vandelli
Beauty entrepreneur Maria Hatzistefanis arrived at the plush London hotel in a fitted black dress, while model Natacha Tannous stunned in a silver and white slit dress
Chopard Co-President Caroline Scheufele wore an elegant black combination, while television host Tania Bryer posed up alongside model Yasmin Le Bon
Co-Chair of the London Air Ambulance Sofia Barattieri-Weinstein and former Creative Director of Issa London Daniella Helayel pose up together, left, while Footballers’ Wives star Laila Rouass made a statement in a long white coat
He also met Milana Hadji-Touma, whose life was saved by an Air Ambulance crew following a terrifying fall that left her in hospital for 11 months.
She introduced the prince to the men who helped her, telling him: ‘The stars aligned and they saved my life.’
She also told the prince: ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here given your personal situation. We are really grateful for your presence.’
‘Thank you so you much, you are very kind, ‘ William said.
Speaking before the event, Jonathan Jenkins, CEO of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, said: ‘HRH Prince William truly understands our work and knows that every second counts in an emergency.
‘We know that with his help as well as the continued support of the public, our crews can reach those who need them most – serving the people of London 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
‘We’re thrilled he will be joining us at our 2024 gala event.’
The Prince of Wales, who was wearing an RAF uniform, chatted warmly with recipients including Patricia Spruce earlier today, who was made an MBE for her work recruiting foreign medics for the NHS.
Prince William at Windsor Castle today making England footballer Ellen White a Member of the Order of the British Empire
Patricia Spruce, who was made an MBE for her work recruiting foreign medics for the NHS, spoke to William and Kate’s
The Prince of Wales prepares to perform an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle today
The Princess of Wales at the Royal Albert Hall last year before her hospital treatment
Ms Spruce revealed afterwards that she had asked William about his wife. Taking to LinkedIn, she wrote: ‘Prince William said that Katherine had two Filipino nurses looking after her and they were amazing and kind.’
Ellen White, who was also made an MBE, said she gave her ‘best wishes’ for Kate and the King. Asked how William responded, she said: ‘He really appreciated it. So yeah, it was something that obviously I wanted to send my best wishes.’
Lipreader Jeremy Freeman, who analysed the exchange for MailOnline, revealed it ended with William saying William, ‘Well it was lovely to see you again’, before White responded, ‘Thank you, please wish your Dad well’.
Charles has postponed all public-facing duties, but is continuing with behind-the-scenes work on his red boxes of state papers.
And today 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 held later over the phone.
William was seen chatting briefly to White, who is the record goalscorer for the England women’s national team
The Prince of Wales smiles as he chats with royal aides prior to today’s ceremony
Ooops! William dropped a medal he was handing to Suzanne Hutchinson, from the charity Little Hearts Matter
The Prince of Wales picks the MBE up from the carpeted floor
William was last seen outside The London Clinic on January 18 after visiting his wife, who returned to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor on Monday and is set to be out of the public eye until at least Easter.
Prince Harry arrived in London yesterday and had a ‘brief meeting’ with Charles at Clarence House, but sources close to William have made it clear he has ‘no plans’ to see his estranged brother.
William will appear at a charity gala tonight, where he is expected to speak about his father’s charity diagnosis for the first time. He may also thank wellwishers and discuss what the Royal Family have been through in recent days.
However, the heir to the throne will not talk about his brother Harry, with one royal expert calling their relationship ‘completely broken’.
The King’s cancer treatment as an outpatient started earlier this week, and he returned, with the Queen, to his Sandringham home in Norfolk yesterday after seeing his son the Duke of Sussex, who had flown back to the UK from California.
William may step in to represent his father at any public events, but no engagements are scheduled at the moment and the royal palaces will make arrangements if the need arises.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry flew 5,000 miles from California yesterday to see his father for 45 minutes following the King’s shock cancer diagnosis.
But while Harry’s transatlantic dash raised hopes he will continue to heal wounds with his family, there hasn’t been ‘any sign’ of a reunion between the two royal brothers.
BBC Royal Correspondent Daniela Relph said the chances of a reconciliation between William and Harry remains unlikely given their ongoing feud.
‘It’s a sibling relationship that still looks incredibly broken. We don’t know if either side has reached out in any way, if there has been any attempt to find a truce. As things stand there doesn’t seem to be any sign of that,’ she told Radio 4.
‘You have to read that as a sign of the state of their relationship, nothing in the diary we’re told for them to meet up while Harry’s in the UK.
‘It also means Harry won’t be visiting his sister-in-law, the Princess of Wales, who has been unwell, someone he was once very close to.’
The Duke of Sussex was one of the first family members seen to visit Charles after his shock diagnosis was made public.
Another visit by Harry to his father has not been ruled out, according to The Telegraph, but it is understood the Duke will not be making a visit to his older brother while staying in London.
Royal biographer Robert Hardman told Radio 4 that it is common for feuding families to ‘come together’ during tough times.
Mr Hardman said: ‘In times of crisis families do come together, and I think everyone will be happy to see that.
‘I think there is a sort of sense of business as usual going on and that’s very much a message that the palace is trying to put out, but if along the way we can see some bridges being built, then that’s got to be a good thing.’
The honour which William gave to White recognises her ‘services to association football’
William regularly hands out honours on behalf of the King (he is seen here with England footballer Ellen White)
White appeared animated as she had a brief chat with William at the investiture ceremony
William made Edward Harley, the Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire, a Commander of the Order of the British Empire
William makes Brigadier Tobias Lambert an Officer of the Order of the British Empire
William smiled as he chatted to the senior officer during today’s ceremony at Windsor Castle
William handing out an honour during this morning’s ceremony at Windsor Castle
While William returned to public duties today – after having decided to ‘clear his diary’ in order to support the Princess of Wales during and after her operation last month – he is not expected to pick up full-time royal duties quite yet.
This evening, he will attend the London Air Ambulance annual fundraising gala in central London. He has been the charity’s patron since 2020.
The dinner is being held in support of the charity’s largest ever fundraiser, hoping to produce £15million to replace its helicopter fleet.
After today, William has no further duties scheduled this week and will be with Kate and the children again next week during their half-term holiday.
Princess Anne will also be back in action today after conducting four engagements yesterday, with three today scheduled across Berkshire, London and Oxfordshire.
A source said: ‘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.’
It is understood that his team at Kensington Palace are speaking to their opposite numbers at Buckingham Palace about which public engagements William could potentially attend in his father’s place.
They are likely to be along the lines of further investitures and, perhaps, leading the family at events such as the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey early next month.
But with His Majesty insisting on keeping his hand firmly on the tiller of State business during his treatment, it is highly unlikely that the future king will be required to take over any constitutional matters.
It is understood that William, 41, has his father’s ‘100 per cent’ backing in returning at his own pace.
A source said: ‘The King adores Catherine and thinks she is doing a wonderful job. He understands that family comes first.’
The King has been spending an increasing amount of time at Windsor Castle since his accession, often staying over on Sunday evenings, affording him more time with his son and young grandchildren to whom he is growing ever closer.
William, who now lives in Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor Estate, a short walk from the castle, also often uses rooms in the historic royal residence for meetings.
The Princess of Wales was unexpectedly admitted to hospital last month for what has been described only as ‘abdominal surgery’.
She spent two weeks in The London Clinic, where the King also underwent his prostate operation, and she is unlikely to start undertaking royal duties again until after Easter.
King Charles and Queen Camilla are pictured leaving Clarence House in London yesterday
Prince Harry is pictured arriving at Clarence House in London yesterday to meet his father
William with Susan Taylor, chair of the British Amateur Rugby League Association, who was made an OBE
The honour for Ms Taylor, from Huddersfield, recognises services to rugby league football
Dr Andrew Haynes, an NHS doctor, was made an OBE by the Prince of Wales
William chats with one of soldiers taking part in this morning’s investiture ceremony
Aides said at the time that her husband had cancelled all his forthcoming engagements to be by her side and support their children Prince George, ten, Princess Charlotte, eight and five-year-old Prince Louis.
While they did not put a timeline on it, sources suggested the Prince would remain at Windsor with them for ‘several weeks’.
William has always made clear that, at this stage in his life, his duty to his family comes ahead of his public role.
However, it is unheard of to have three senior members of the Royal Family out of action at one time, particularly now the King is likely to be away for longer than planned, meaning working royals will be thin on the ground.
And this means there will, inevitably, be more pressure on the future king to step up.
Harry met with his father for the first time in 18 months yesterday – for just 45 minutes – following the King’s shock cancer diagnosis.
Hours after Charles called him personally to break the news, the Duke of Sussex had boarded a plane to London from the US to see him.
But their meeting, at the monarch’s Clarence House residence, lasted less than an hour.
The King, looking remarkably fresh-faced and cheerful despite starting treatment for his unspecified cancer in hospital on Monday, left shortly afterwards by helicopter for Sandringham, his Norfolk estate, with his loyal wife, Queen Camilla.
The Mail understands he is ‘doing well’ and is on ‘very good form’.
William is now completely estranged from Harry following several years of vicious attacks against the monarchy, as well as himself and his wife personally.
Sources made clear that William’s focus is, as it has been for the last few weeks, on the Princess of Wales, who is recovering from abdominal surgery, and their three children in Windsor.
A source previously told the Mail that the future king respects his father’s decision to ‘keep the door ajar’ for Harry, but that is ‘not an option for him personally for the time being.’
The day of family drama comes after Buckingham Palace announced on Monday night that the 75-year-old monarch had begun immediate treatment after doctors discovered an ‘issue of concern’ while he was undergoing surgery last month for an enlarged prostate, which is itself benign.
Subsequent diagnostic tests identified a form of cancer, which has not been specified by royal aides, but has been confirmed not to be prostate cancer, one of the biggest killers of men in the UK.
As a result the King has postponed all his public commitments, although he continues to very much work behind the scenes on his state and constitutional duties.
The Mail revealed yesterday that his condition had been caught at an ‘early stage’ and his prognosis is positive.
His Majesty is said to be ‘looking forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible’.
Prince William was last seen outside The London Clinic after visiting Kate on January 18, 2024
Prince William and Kate with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis in June 2022
King Charles and Queen Camilla attend church at Sandringham in Norfolk on February 4, 2024
Prince William holds a previous investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle on January 24, 2023
He rang all close family members personally to break the news to them, including Harry, who was last in the UK for his father’s coronation last May.
However it is not believed that father and son actually met on that occasion, meaning the last time they would have seen each other in person was at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral in September 2022.
They have, however, spoken on the phone, with sources close to Harry seemingly leaking details of a a telephone call he had with his father on his 75th birthday last November and how his children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, had recorded a video of them singing happy birthday to the grandfather they have barely met.
The King is known to have been deeply hurt by his youngest son’s many attacks on the family since he and wife Meghan acrimoniously quit as working royals and moved to North America, including their series of tell-all television interviews and documentary series, as well as Harry’s memoir, Spare.
Sources say while the King is exhausted by the drama and wants to focus on his role as monarch, he has insisted on never closing the door on his youngest son.
It is not clear whether he invited Harry to visit him or whether it was the prince’s decision to come, but on Monday night he was seen boarding a a flight in Los Angeles.
He arrived at Heathrow airport’s Windsor VIP suite, which is used by the royal family, where he was greeted by two royal Range Rovers, at least three plain clothed Metropolitan Police royalty protection officers and two police escort cars.
Harry is currently taking legal action against the Home Office for withdrawing his taxpayer funded British police protection when he left the UK, arguing that he and has family do not feel safe in this country without it.
Dressed in a black jacket over what appeared to be a casual black t-shirt, Harry sped through the main gates to Clarence House, having swept past the monarch’s official London residence, Buckingham Palace, at 2.45pm, head was turned firmly to one side.
The King and Queen – whom Harry has recently accused of being ‘dangerous’ and ‘a villain’, much to his father’s anger – were already inside, having taken up residence there on Monday in order for the King to attend hospital.
Royal aides have refused to discuss the meeting at all, although it is understood that fact that it even happened is being seen as a cause for ‘optimism’.
Some believe that the fact that Harry flew to London so quickly and that his father saw him immediately could even suggest the start of a ‘thaw’.
But there was no hiding the fact that it lasted just three quarters of an hour, with the same cars sweeping out with Harry apparently inside, although hidden from view, at 3.32pm.
It is unclear whether he plans to stay in the country or return immediately to California where his wife, Meghan, remained. His spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. He has previously stayed at an undisclosed hotel and is unlikely to be offered royal accommodation.
Clearly Charles and Camilla had their bags already packed to leave, as just six minutes later, at 3.38pm, they drove out of the gates too.
The King, looking smart in a suit and patterned tie, looked remarkably healthy and waved and smiled warmly to well-wishers, as did Queen Camilla.
A few minutes later the monarch’s distinctive burgundy helicopter could be seen taking off from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, arriving at Sandringham at 4.20pm.
The Mail understands that it was always the King’s plan to return to his Norfolk estate to recuperate and work quietly, as soon as his first treatment was over.
The Royal Helicopter that brought King Charles and Queen Camilla to Sandringham yesterday
Yesterday – February 6 – marks the day that his grandfather, King George VI, died at Sandringham House of lung cancer in 1952 and his late mother, Queen Elizabeth, acceded the throne.
Sources have said that the King appears to be in great spirits, and ‘if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t suspect there was anything wrong with him’.
He is said to be ‘up and about’, keeping up with the red boxes of official paperwork required of him as head of state.
It is understood His Majesty plans to return to London when treatment is required or if he has important official business, including meetings with the Prime Minister.
However his return to Sandringham yesterday suggests that at least their first normal Wednesday conversation will take place by phone.
His treatment will be interspersed with periods of rest recuperation at one of his country residences including Sandringham, Highgrove in Gloucestershire and Windsor.
It is likely that he will also revert to a Covid-style way of working with more telephone meetings and video calls in order to minimise public contact and protect his health during the early stages of medical intervention.
The Prime Minister yesterday said he was ‘shocked and sad’ at the King’s cancer diagnosis, but insisted ministers would ‘crack on’ with the business of government.
Rishi Sunak, who was informed of the news before it was made public on Monday evening, said he remained ‘in regular contact’ with the monarch ‘and will continue to communicate with him as normal’.