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Prince William speaks about Princess Kate's recovery and King Charles' treatment for first time in moving speech

The Prince of Wales is now assuming additional responsibilities

Prince William gives a speech during a dinner at the Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway.
Diane Shipley
Diane ShipleySenior Online Writer
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Prince William attended London’s Air Ambulance Charity Gala Dinner on Wednesday, where he thanked those in attendance for their kind wishes about his father King Charles

Speaking two days after the news of the monarch's cancer diagnosis was made public, the Prince gave a short but heartfelt speech in which he made a brief reference to his wife and father's health issues. 

He said: "Good evening everyone. Thank you all for being here. And thank you to those whose hard work has made this evening possible. 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! 

WATCH: Royal expert calls for senior royals to step up duties in light of King's cancer diagnosis

"But, seriously, we gather tonight to help as many people as possible benefit from top-class care in the silhouette of London’s Air Ambulance’s flying lifelines.  As a former pilot for East Anglia Air Ambulance, I know just how vital the work of air ambulance teams across the country is, and the truly life-saving difference it can make to deliver urgent medical care wherever injury strikes.

Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales talks with Air Ambulance pilots, doctors and paramedics © Getty
The Prince of Wales talked with Air Ambulance pilots, doctors and paramedics

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.   

You wouldn't be here if you needed much persuading, I know. But just wait to hear Milana's story later of how the Air Ambulance, and its incredible teams, have given her a second chance at life.  

Prince William and Kate Middleton standing with people in red uniform© Getty
The Prince of Wales is also a patron for the Wales Air Ambulance charity

"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. 

 Prince William, Prince of Wales attends The Tusk Conservation Awards 2023© Getty
Prince William addressed his father's health in his speech

"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.   Anyway, an enormous thank you to all for being here tonight and for supporting such a wonderful cause. You are all, each and every one of you, lifesavers."

Tom Cruise joined the Prince at the event© Getty
Tom Cruise joined the Prince at the event

The royal father-of-three is patron of the charity and it's a cause close to his heart as he worked as an air ambulance pilot for the East Anglia Air Ambulance between March 2015 and July 2017, where he flew emergency medical service missions. 

Prince William standing with a yellow helicopter© Getty
The Prince was an air ambulance pilot for two years

Last year, he opened up about the emotional toll of this intense role during a visit to the Blue Light Hub, a new operational base for South Central Ambulance Service, Thames Valley Police and Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service. 

He said: "I was holding everything and doing it all. There were a few times I had an armour up. I took it home with me and it went from there… I do worry about people retiring. We have to be better at managing long-term health." 

He's facing another challenging time at the moment following the Princess of Wales's recent abdominal surgery and King Charles' cancer diagnosis. As the monarch undergoes treatment, the heir to the throne is set to take on additional responsibilities alongside his existing schedule. 

The development comes after Kensington Palace announced William's return to official duties, just hours ahead of the revelation concerning the King's condition. 

The timeline for the King's full recovery and return to public engagements remains unspecified, and it is anticipated that Kate will also maintain a low profile until after the Easter period. 

King charles and camilla leaving hospital © Getty Images
The monarch leaving hospital last month

However, King Charles, known for his diligent work ethic, still intends to manage his state affairs and official papers from behind the scenes, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on Wednesday that he and the King will continue their weekly meetings, with this week's held over the phone. 

He will also continue to meet with the Privy Council every month, which can also be conducted remotely. The extent to which the King's health will affect other royal tours and engagements is yet to be determined. 

A timeline of King Charles' recent health journey

Wednesday 17th January - Buckingham Palace announces the King, 75, is to have treatment for a benign enlarged prostate and will be admitted to hospital in a few days. 

Thursday 25th January - The King carried out behind-the-scenes official duties at Sandringham House. 

The King arrives back in London from Norfolk ready for his treatment.

Friday 26th January - The King is admitted to the London Clinic for treatment for an enlarged prostate and also visits Princess Kate, who is recovering in the same hospital. 

Monday 29th January - The King is discharged from hospital and waves at well-wishers. 

Wednesday 31st January - Camilla says the King is "getting on, doing his best" as she opened a Maggie's cancer support centre at the Royal Free Hospital in London. 

Sunday 4th February - The King and Queen attend church in Sandringham, with Charles waving at well-wishers. 

Monday 5th February - At 6pm, Buckingham Palace announces the King has a form of cancer - but not prostate cancer - and has started treatment as an outpatient. 

He will not carry out public-facing duties, but will carry on with behind-the-scenes state business and official papers.

In the meantime, significant occasions such as the Commonwealth Day service and the 80th anniversary of D-Day could see William taking centre stage. 

Prince William and King Charles walk behind Queen Elizabeth II's coffin © Getty
Prince William will represent his father on official engagements

On Wednesday, the Prince conducted an investiture at Windsor Castle, a routine element of his royal duties, before attending the gala. Buckingham Palace's statement on Monday about the King's health was brief yet optimistic. 

It read: "His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties. 

King Charles and Queen Camilla wave© Getty
King Charles and Queen Camilla leaving Clarence House on Tuesday

“Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual. The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention... He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible."

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