At a gala in London, Prince William thanked the public for wishing his family well after King Charles III announced a cancer diagnosis and Kate Middleton underwent abdominal surgery. On Wednesday, the prince returned to royal duties after nearly a month away to host an investiture at Windsor Castle and attend a fundraising gala for the London Air Ambulance, where he chatted with Tom Cruise and delivered a brief speech.
“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,” he said. “It means a great deal to us all,” he said. “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!”
In the weeks since Kensington Palace announced that the Princess of Wales had been hospitalized for a planned surgery last month, William has been taking time off from royal duties to care for his wife and three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. This week, his return to royal duties—reportedly on a part-time basis—coincided with his father’s announcement that a recent medical treatment had uncovered an unspecified cancer.
A source told People that Charles wants to avoid putting too much work on William during his time away from engagements for outpatient treatment. “[The King] has always wanted to save his children from having that pressure too early and that will remain,” the source said. “Particularly as William has other priorities [with Kate].”
The rest of William’s Wednesday speech had to do with the charity and its new fundraising drive to finance the purchase of two new helicopters for its fleet. To discuss their importance, he mentioned his own experience serving on an air ambulance from 2011 to 2015. “As a former pilot for East Anglia Air Ambulance,” he said, “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.”
When William arrived at the gala, held at Raffles London, on Wednesday night, he quickly made Cruise laugh by mentioning the velvet loafers he wore to the Top Gun: Maverick premiere in 2022. William was also sure to mention the night’s VIP guest in his remarks—with a reference to his penchant for spectacular tricks in the air as a part of the Top Gun franchise.
“I should also take this opportunity to give a mention to my—our—fellow pilot Tom Cruise. Tom, huge thanks for supporting us tonight,” William said. “And Tom, 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.”