Prince William has thanked royal well-wishers for their “kindness” while speaking publicly for the first time since King Charles’ cancer diagnosis.
The Prince of Wales, 41, made the remark as he gets set to give a speech at a fundraising gala for the London Air Ambulance Charity at London’s Raffles Hotel on Wednesday (07.02.24) in a return to royal duties after his dad was diagnosed on Monday (05.02.24) with a undisclosed form of the illness.
As he arrived at the event, dad-of-three William told well-wishers: “We really appreciate everyone’s kindness. Thank you.”
The prince also shook hands and posed for a photograph with Tom Cruise, 61, before the pair chatted for several seconds and the Hollywood star gently patted the prince on his arm.
William added: “This is Tom Cruise, needs no introduction.”
Referring to how he wore ‘Top Gun’-themed slippers to the premier of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ in 2021, William looked down at his feet and turned to Tom before saying: “I haven’t got my ‘Top Gun’ slippers on,” prompting Tom to laugh as the royal went into another room.
The prince – who is a former air ambulance pilot – will meet crew members, former patients and supporters at the event and is expected to talk in more detail about Charles’ illness.
William is said to have wanted to “reassure the public” by stepping in to attend the event amid his dad’s health woes.
His visit to the event on Wednesday night was hours after he returned to public engagements by holding an investiture at Windsor Castle.
Sources said on Tuesday (06.02.24) William was planning to keep his wife and children’s welfare at the forefront of his duties as he helps his ill dad King Charles.
The heir to the British throne was caring for his wife Catherine, Princess of Wales, 42, and their three children, Princes George, 10, and Louis, five, and daughter Princess Charlotte, eight, following his partner’s recent abdominal surgery when news broke Charles is suffering an undisclosed form of cancer.
An insider 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.”
The Mail added it is understood William has his dad’s “100 per cent” backing in returning to royal duties at his own pace.
A source added: “The King adores Catherine and thinks she is doing a wonderful job. He understands that family comes first.”
Catherine was in The London Clinic for two weeks, where Charles also underwent a corrective operation for an enlarged prostate, before his cancer was announced.