King Charles III attended church services Sunday in his first public appearance since his announcement of his cancer diagnosis last week. The outing follows a brief statement he issued Saturday, in which he expressed admiration for cancer patients and their families from around the globe.
On February 5, Buckingham Palace announced that the 75-year-old king had been diagnosed with cancer following an unrelated procedure for “benign prostate enlargement.” Starting that day, he “commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties,” last week’s statement read.
“He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible,” the Palace said. The exact nature of his cancer has not been disclosed.
As previously reported, Charles will receive his treatments in London, but “plans to base himself at Sandringham to recover between outpatient sessions.” The royal family’s Norfolk estate is about 110 miles from London, and gives the king “a place of shelter where he can isolate from the risk of infection,” the Associated Press reports. It also makes for a quick trip to St. Mary Magdalene Church, the parish church that the royals attend when at Sandringham, and where Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, were greeted by well-wishers this morning.
The couple easily walked the brief distance from Sandringham House to the church, with Charles in a tan raincoat and an umbrella by his side. A crowd of around 100 people had gathered just outside the estate, waving at the couple and calling messages of support.
Charles called out that ongoing encouragement in a statement he sent—by way of Buckingham Palace—the day before. In an announcement entitled “A thank you message from His Majesty The King,” Charles wrote, “I would like to express my most heartfelt thanks for the many messages of support and good wishes I have received in recent days.”
“As all those who have been affected by cancer will know, such kind thoughts are the greatest comfort and encouragement,” he wrote.
“It is equally heartening to hear how sharing my own diagnosis has helped promote public understanding and shine a light on the work of all those organisations which support cancer patients and their families across the UK and wider world,” Charles wrote, perhaps a reference to a Guardian report that since he was diagnosed, cancer nonprofit Prostate Cancer UK “saw a 500% rise in people visiting its website and the number of men using its online risk checker to see whether they should get a prostate checkup.”
The king has been a patron of U.K. nonprofit Macmillan Cancer Support and its Marie Curie hospice and nursing program since the 1990s, a relationship that has escalated in recent days. Last week, “Buckingham Palace gave Macmillan the green light to urge others in his position to reach out for support, retweeting the charity’s message on its own social media profile,” the Times notes, prompting a four year high in visits to its website.
Charles ended the statement by expressing “my lifelong admiration” for the “tireless care and dedication” of those charities, saying his sentiments are “all the greater as a result of my own personal experience.”
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