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King Charles stresses friendship after Kate cancer diagnosis in Easter message

WorldKing Charles stresses friendship after Kate cancer diagnosis in Easter message

LONDON — King Charles III delivered an Easter message Thursday stressing the importance of friendship, “especially in a time of need” — his first public remarks since Kate, the Princess of Wales, revealed she had become the second senior royal to be diagnosed with cancer.

The pre-recorded audio message comes ahead of the king’s attendance at a service on Easter Sunday, in what will be his most significant public appearance since his own cancer diagnosis in February.

Charles, 75, was heard at a traditional Maundy Thursday service at Worcester Cathedral, near Birmingham in the West Midlands, some 130 miles northwest of London.

He spoke of how Jesus set an “example of how we should serve and care for each other,” and how “we need and benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need,” according to the Press Association, a British news agency that typically reports royal announcements.

Buckingham Palace confirmed Wednesday that the king will attend the Easter Mattins Service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle — one of the most important spiritual events in the royal calendar.

The king did not address his daughter-in-law’s health directly or name her in his brief personal message on Thursday. But royal watchers may interpret his words in the context of the ongoing family health crisis.

He also delivered a Bible reading.

The king did not appear in person at Thursday’s event — instead Queen Camilla deputized for him. Charles has stepped back from public engagements on medical advice.

The king’s public relations team also released a new picture of the monarch sitting at a desk in Buckingham Palace’s 18th Century Room, apparently recording his address into a microphone.

Charles has spoken of how touched he is by the outpouring of messages and cards from well-wishers from across the United Kingdom and beyond as he undergoes treatment for cancer, the exact type and stage of which the palace has not disclosed.

The king released a statement after Kate revealed her diagnosis last Friday, saying that he had become closer to his daughter-in-law through their shared hospital stays.

The king was “so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did,” the statement said.

The Royal Maundy service is part of the king’s role as the head of the Anglican Church. The monarch hands out specially made coins in white and red purses to 75 men and 75 women to reward them for good deeds such as charity work, a reference to the king’s age. Camilla performed that role on Thursday.

The event symbolizes the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of disciples the day before Good Friday. The custom dates back to 600 A.D. and the coins have been in use since 1662, when Charles II distributed Maundy money.

Charles attended last year’s service at York Minster, following a tradition set by Queen Elizabeth II to hold it in different places across the U.K., not just in London.

The king continues to work behind the scenes while receiving treatment for cancer. On Tuesday, he met community and faith leaders from the Windsor Leadership charity at Buckingham Palace, and he continues to hold a weekly audience with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, albeit on at least one occasion by phone.

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