William tells well-wishers Royal Family 'appreciate kind messages' after King's cancer diagnosis

As the King steps back from public duties, Prince William stands in to bestow MBE and OBE honours, ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports

The Prince of Wales thanked well-wishers for their supportive messages at a London Air Ambulance charity event on Wednesday.

During his pre-dinner speech, the prince, who previously worked as an air ambulance pilot, 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’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,” he joked.

The Prince of Wales shares a joke with Tom Cruise at the charity gala dinner Credit: Daniel Leal/PA

The gala was attended by celebrity guests, including Tom Cruise and We Are Family singers Sister Sledge, and is raising funds for the charity's plans to replace its fleet of helicopters by the autumn.

Prince William returned to public duties on Wednesday for the first time since his father was diagnosed with cancer, and his wife had surgery.

The heir to the throne will be the leading member of the royal family at official events across the country as the King receives treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer.

Earlier, on his first engagement since King Charles was diagnosed with cancer, and his wife was discharged from hospital, Prince William hosted a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony.

The Prince of Wales, Patron of London's Air Ambulance Charity, talks with Air Ambulance pilots, doctors and paramedics. Credit: PA

He awarded honours such as CBEs, OBEs and MBEs to recipients for their work or contribution to public life.

William honoured England women's record goal scorer Ellen Convery (formerly known as Ellen White) during the ceremony.

When asked about her conversation with the prince, she said: “I sent my best wishes to the King.

“I just think, you know, it must be a difficult time for the family. He was really lovely.”

Recipients also included Suzie Hutchinson, Chief Executive and Service Lead at Little Heart Matters and John Broadfoot, Chairman and Founder of SOS Kit Aid.

Mrs Ellen Convery (Ellen White), after being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Credit: PA

The King’s cancer treatment as an outpatient started earlier this week.

He returned, with the Queen, to his Sandringham home in Norfolk on Tuesday after seeing his son, the Duke of Sussex, who had flown back to the UK from California.

Downing Street confirmed that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would hold a phone call with the King on Wednesday evening.

Charles has postponed all public-facing duties, but is continuing with behind-the-scenes work on his red boxes of state papers.

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 after undergoing planned abdominal surgery on January 16 at the London Clinic.

William, 41, took time off work to support his family and planned to return once Kate’s care and recovery had settled, but the 42-year-old future queen is not expected to return to official duties until after Easter.

At the same private hospital that cared for Kate, the King received treatment for an enlarged prostate and was discharged the same day, but on Monday, Buckingham Palace announced Charles had been diagnosed with a “form of cancer”.

On Wednesday, The Royal Family's account on X, formerly known as Twitter, shared a message from cancer support charity Macmillan, offering advice and help to those living with the disease.

Following the King's announcement, there was a 42% increase in visitors to Cancer Research's information webpages.

The charity's UK Head of Health and Patient Information, Dr Julie Sharp, said: "High profile cancer cases often act as a prompt to encourage people to find out more or think about their own health."

"If people spot something that's not normal for them or isn't going away, they should check with their GP. Spotting cancer at an early stage means treatment is more likely to be successful."

For more royal news, listen to our podcast For more royal news, listen to our podcast The Royal Rota...