April 16, 2024

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King Charles attends Easter Mass in church in the most notable appearance since his cancer diagnosis

King Charles attends Easter Mass in church in the most notable appearance since his cancer diagnosis

Windsor, England

King Charles III made his most significant outing since his cancer diagnosis last month, attending a traditional Easter church service in Windsor on Sunday.

Charles (75 years old) appeared in good spirits when he arrived by car at St. George's Chapel, a fourteenth-century building on the grounds of Windsor Castle, about an hour's drive from London. He was accompanied by his wife, Queen Camilla, to the event, which is a key event in the royal calendar.

Typically, the extended royal family gathers for Easter at Windsor Castle before heading to church together. Their arrival is usually monitored by staff who live in Windsor, either from a nearby grass bank or from their doorstep.

The royal couple waved to a small crowd of well-wishers who had gathered nearby before making their way to the church through the Galilee portico.

This year's celebration is more subdued, with fewer royals in attendance to reduce the king's contact with others during his treatment.

The King and Queen are expected to sit separately from the rest of the main congregation.

Likewise, the late Queen Elizabeth II sat separately from her loved ones when she attended the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip, which took place amid strict pandemic regulations in 2021.

The king's siblings were the first family members to arrive. Prince Edward and Sophie – the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh – were accompanied by their son James, Earl of Wessex. They were followed by the King's sister, Princess Anne – who quickly waved to the crowd – and her husband Tim Lawrence, as well as Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.

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It was not clear whether Charles would attend the usual family lunch after the service. In the coming days, he and Camila are said to be taking a break for Easter.

The King's presence will be an encouraging sight for many royal watchers after he temporarily halted his public engagements on the advice of his doctors.

However, he has maintained a steady hand in the running of things, overseeing state business and official paperwork through his daily red boxes from the UK government while keeping private public diaries in addition to his regular weekly meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

In recent days, he received the new ambassadors of Moldova and Burundi at Buckingham Palace, met the Secretary-General of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and met with a group of community and religious leaders from across the UK.

Charles sought to reassure the nation that he was dealing with constitutional matters behind the scenes in a personal message before the Easter weekend.

In a recorded audio address to the annual Royal Maundy service on Thursday, he repeated his coronation pledge “not to be served but to serve” “with all my heart”.

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He also expressed his “deep sadness” that he was unable to join the congregation, saying the service “holds a very special place in my heart.”

The Queen delegated on her husband's behalf to distribute traditional Maundi money – specially minted coins – to people in appreciation of their service to the church and the local community.

Noticeably absent from Sunday's Easter celebrations were the Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children. The Welsh were in attendance last year with Prince Louis making his first appearance at a family outing to the delight of royal watchers.

The family of five have been laying low since Catherine revealed just over a week ago that she had started chemotherapy for cancer that was discovered in post-op tests following a planned abdominal surgery in January.

The Welsh spend the Easter holidays together as they continue to cope with Kate's diagnosis.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said last Saturday that the prince and princess were “deeply touched by the warmth and support of the public” and were “grateful for their request for privacy to be understood at this time.”

Kate has not been seen in an official capacity since Christmas Day. Easter was initially suggested by Kensington Palace as the period in which she would resume her post-operative duties. However, her return has been postponed until her medical team allows her to do so.

Prince William is expected to resume public engagements in mid-April once Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis resume school.