London: Britain’s Prince of Wales, William, has expressed his gratitude to the British public for their messages of support during the royal family’s “medical focus”, with father King Charles’ cancer diagnosis and wife Kate Middleton’s recent abdominal surgery.
As he arrived for the London Air Ambulance Service gala in London on Wednesday evening, the 41-year-old told the crowds gathered that “we really appreciate everyone's kind messages, thank you". He reiterated his gratitude during his speech for the gala as he referred to a series of medical developments related to the senior royals in recent days.
"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," said William.
"It means a great deal to us all. It's fair to say the past few weeks have had a rather medical focus," he added, joking that he had come to an air ambulance function to "get away from it all".
At the gala, he was spotted chatting to and laughing with Hollywood star Tom Cruise.
William is a former air ambulance pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance and during the event met crew members, former patients and supporters before delivering the speech. The gala dinner is raising funds for London's Air Ambulance Charity's Up Against Time appeal, which is seeking GBP 15 million to replace the service's helicopter fleet by the autumn.
"By September, we need the two new red birds – decked with the latest kit such as night vision – in our skies," he said.
It marked among the first high-profile events for Prince William after he returned to work supporting the King on Wednesday, when he hosted a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony. His younger brother Prince Harry flew into London from his home in California to spend around 45 minutes at Clarence House, the King’s home, a day after Buckingham Palace revealed that the 75-year-old monarch has been diagnosed with an unspecified form of cancer.
William is expected to step in for several engagements as the King withdraws from his public-facing royal duties during the course of his treatment. However, he will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as well as his weekly audiences with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.