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King Charles speaks of friendship 'in time of need' in first address since Kate's cancer announcement

The British monarch spoke in a recorded address at a Holy Thursday event at Worcester Cathedral.
/ Source: Today.com

King Charles III on Thursday made his first public address since his daughter-in-law Kate, the Princess of Wales, announced she was being treated for cancer.

In a recorded Easter address played at a Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday) service at Worcester Cathedral, the king spoke about the importance of friendship, "especially in a time of need."

"In this country we are blessed by all the different services that exist for our welfare," the kind said in an audio recording that was played in the cathedral, which is outside Birmingham, north of London.

"But over and above these organizations and their selfless staff, we need and benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need."

The king did not mention the former Kate Middleton by name. He began the address by reading a verse from the Bible, going on to say that the Easter week services were a reminder "to follow Christ’s example ‘not to be served but to serve.'"

Charles, who is being treated for an unspecified form of cancer, did not attend the service, an annual event held on the Thursday before Easter where the monarch typically gives out symbolic gifts of money, known as "Maundy money," to local parishioners as a reward for charity work or service.

Queen Camilla attended the event in Charles' place, the BBC reported.

The address marked the first public remarks the king has made since Kate's surprising video announcement about her health last week, a source said.

The king and the princess had lunch on March 22 before Kate shared in a video on social media that she is undergoing preventative chemotherapy for an unspecified form of cancer, a source at Kensington Palace told NBC News.

“This new experience for them both will really cement what has long been a very affectionate bond between the king and his beloved daughter-in-law,” Hello magazine royal editor Emily Nash said on March 25 on TODAY.

Following the video's release, Charles released a statement through a Buckingham Palace spokesperson saying he was “so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did.” His well wishes were part of a flood of support for the Princess of Wales from around the world.

“I think for her and for the king that the outpouring of support for both of them, and well-wishes for the both of them to recover quickly, has been hugely heartening,” Charles’ nephew, Peter Phillips, told Sky News Australia.

Kate, 42, had been the subject of weeks of conspiracy theories and speculation online. She had not been seen in public since Kensington Palace officials announced that she underwent a “planned abdominal surgery” in January.

She wrote her message herself and wanted to deliver it in a video rather than as a statement, sources told NBC News.

In her address on Friday, Kate said her surgery had been successful, but doctors had recommended "a course of preventative chemotherapy and I’m now in the early stages of that treatment.”

Preventative chemotherapy generally refers to a treatment conducted after initial interventions that aims to prevent cancer from returning, Dr. Ben Ho Park, director of precision oncology at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, told TODAY.com March 22.

Buckingham Palace said on Wednesday that Charles will attend the royal family's Easter service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Sunday.

But Kate and her husband, Prince William, will not be there, as she continues her treatment. The couple and their three children are currently at their country residence in Norfolk, England, according to NBC royal contributor Katie Nicholl.

“This, of course, came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family,” Kate said in her video message. “It has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK."

The palace announced on Feb. 5 that Charles learned he had cancer after undergoing a procedure for a prostate enlargement. Officials did not specify what kind of cancer he is being treated for, but said it was not prostate cancer.

Nicholl said on TODAY Monday that palace sources indicated the king is “responding really well to treatment” and is in “really good spirits.” She added that she expected a “slightly scaled back Easter service” this year due to the king’s health.