Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Queen attends first public outing since King’s cancer diagnosis was revealed and says he is ‘doing extremely well under the circumstances’ – after ‘trouper Camilla took five-hour drive’ to charity concert due to flooded helipad

The Queen attended her first public engagement tonight since her husband’s cancer diagnosis was announced and reassured well-wishers that he was ‘doing extremely well under the circumstances’.

Camilla said King Charles, 75, who underwent his first bout of treatment earlier this week, was ‘very touched’ by all the messages of support he has been receiving from around the world.

The 76-year-old – who took a five-hour drive from her husband’s side at Sandringham to Wiltshire after the local helipad flooded – made the remarks as she arrived at Salisbury Cathedral for a charity musical evening. 

Ben Abbott, 40, a critical care paramedic for Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: ‘I do hope His Majesty is doing well Ma’am, we’re all really sad to hear the news.” 

Her Majesty replied: ‘He is doing extremely well under the circumstances. He is very touched by all of the letters and messages the public have been sending from everywhere. That’s very cheering.’

Camilla managed a smile as she arrived at the musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral, which is being held to celebrate the work of local charities

Camilla managed a smile as she arrived at the musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral, which is being held to celebrate the work of local charities

Queen Camilla takes a moment of reflection at The Salisbury font, designed by British water sculptor William Pye, during a musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral

Queen Camilla takes a moment of reflection at The Salisbury font, designed by British water sculptor William Pye, during a musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral

The elegant royal, 76, handed her umbrella to an aide before heading further inside the venue

The elegant royal, 76, handed her umbrella to an aide before heading further inside the venue

The King and Queen wave as they leave by car from Clarence House in London on February 6, 2024

The King and Queen wave as they leave by car from Clarence House in London on February 6, 2024

The Queen had long been scheduled to attend the musical evening to celebrate the work of three Wiltshire charities and travelled five hours from her husband’s side at Sandringham to be there. 

She is a firm supporter of The Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, The Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Community First, as well as the regimental charities of the Grenadier Guards and The Rifles.

But thanks to the inclement weather and the King’s recuperation for his first treatment for his undisclosed cancer, her visit almost didn’t come off.

Camilla, who hasn’t left her husband’s side since his diagnosis, has been with him in Norfolk all week as he recuperates.

Staff had arranged for her to take the King’s official helicopter from Norfolk to Wiltshire but the heavy rain currently battering southern England meant that her local helipad was completely flooded.

At one point aides feared having to cancel, but apparently Queen Camilla was determined not to let anyone down and set her sights on finding a way.

So the royal insisted on driving the 205 miles, five-hour journey from East Anglia to Wiltshire.

A source said: ‘It’s been a tough week but Her Majesty was determined not to let people down. She knows the organisers personally and the charities are three she is very much involved in.

Camilla added a stylish brooch with green jewelled detailing as she looked as elegant as ever for the outing

She donned an elegant white coat, which she paired with black heeled boots

Camilla added a stylish brooch with green jewelled detailing as she looked as elegant as ever for the outing 

Queen Camilla is greeted by a representative of the regimental charities during a musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral

Queen Camilla is greeted by a representative of the regimental charities during a musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral

The Queen was greeted by air ambulance charity representatives as they shook hands

The Queen was greeted by air ambulance charity representatives as they shook hands

Camilla appeared in good spirits as she reassured the nation about Charles's health as she left his side for the first time

Camilla appeared in good spirits as she reassured the nation about Charles’s health as she left his side for the first time

Queen Camilla arrives at the musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral on Thursday

Queen Camilla arrives at the musical evening at Salisbury Cathedral on Thursday

At one point, aides feared having to cancel the appearance due to the weather, but Camilla was determined to attend

At one point, aides feared having to cancel the appearance due to the weather, but Camilla was determined to attend

Camilla was greeted by a fanfare, before speaking to members of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance once inside the cathedral

Camilla was greeted by a fanfare, before speaking to members of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance once inside the cathedral

The event this evening (pictured) was held to celebrate the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, The Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Community First, as well as the regimental charities of the Grenadier Guards and The Rifles

The event this evening (pictured) was held to celebrate the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, The Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Community First, as well as the regimental charities of the Grenadier Guards and The Rifles

‘Plus she was concerned that if she cancelled at the last minute it would spark all sorts of alarm about His Majesty, who is actually doing well. 

‘She’s always been a trouper and decided that if a 400-odd mile, 10-hour round trip was the only way to do it, then that’s what she would do.’

Camilla stayed for the whole two hour event, which included music by the award-winning concert pianist Rupert Egerton-Smith and saw Her Majesty greeted by a fanfare and take her seat following a reception.

She stayed at Ray Mill, her private home nearby, overnight and will drive back to Sandringham to be reunited with her husband on Friday.

Charles has postponed all public-facing duties, but is continuing with behind-the-scenes work on his red boxes of state papers.

William may step in to represent his father at an event, but no engagements are scheduled at the moment and the royal palaces will make arrangements if the need arises.

Kate left hospital last Monday after abdominal surgery and returned to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor to be reunited with her three children, but the 42-year-old is not expected to return to official duties until after Easter.

The Queen has a home in Lacock, Wiltshire, and she chatted with the air ambulance medics about their work. Mr Abbott said: ‘I told her we always wave when we fly over Lacock and she said she always waves back.’

It comes after it emerged Prince Harry may have switched flights in order to get home quicker to Los Angeles after a flying visit to London to see his cancer-stricken father.

The Duke of Sussex, who spent just 45 minutes with his father but did not see his brother Prince William at all, arrived at Heathrow Airport just before 2pm yesterday and is now back in LA, where he will be reunited with his wife Meghan Markle.

Harry, 39, is understood to have been spotted leaving a Delta flight that landed at LAX airport at 6.16pm local time on Wednesday (2.16am Thursday UK time). 

It’s understood that he switched to the Delta flight because the British Airways flight he was supposed to take was ‘delayed by two hours’, The Express reports.

Flight records show that the BA flight 269 that he was expected to take was due to depart Heathrow at 3.05pm but actually left at 5.19pm.

It is Camilla's first public engagement since the King's cancer diagnosis was revealed

It is Camilla’s first public engagement since the King’s cancer diagnosis was revealed

Camilla shook hands with a representative of the regimental charities of The Grenadier Guards and The Rifles

Camilla shook hands with a representative of the regimental charities of The Grenadier Guards and The Rifles

Camilla speaks to Rupert Egerton-Smith, centre, an award-winning concert pianist

Camilla speaks to Rupert Egerton-Smith, centre, an award-winning concert pianist

With the King out of action as he receives treatment, Camilla could take on more engagements (pictured greeting an air ambulance representative)

With the King out of action as he receives treatment, Camilla could take on more engagements (pictured greeting an air ambulance representative)

Harry had flown more than 5,000 miles from Los Angeles to London after his father informed him of his devastating cancer diagnosis. 

He flew into London on a ten-hour flight and arrived at Clarence House at 2.42pm on Tuesday before spending around 45 minutes with Charles.

They held a ‘brief meeting’ before the King and Camilla were driven to Buckingham Palace where a helicopter was waiting to take them back to Sandringham in Norfolk.

The Duke is not believed to have seen his brother William or sister-in-law Kate Middleton, who is recovering from her abdominal surgery and on extended leave.

While waiting for the duke to return home, Meghan was pictured flashing a smile yesterday as she drove around near the couple’s Montecito home.

Royal expert Jennie Bond told MailOnline that Prince Harry’s visit to the UK shows how deep the royal rift has actually become.

She claimed: ‘William has shown today that he has disowned Harry, he doesn’t want to know him, and he probably doesn’t even like him anymore. Harry is just not part of his life.

‘That rift is so deep now, and that has been shown by Harry being here and them not meeting, so deep that I really do wonder if it can ever, ever be mended.’

And Robert Jobson told Mail+ that although Charles was perhaps touched by his ‘darling boy’s’ gesture in reality it has caused ‘some disquiet by ‘taking it upon himself’ to fly over unbidden’.

Charles, 75, was seen in public for the first time since his cancer diagnosis when he left his offices at Clarence House after a brief reunion with Harry.

Flight records show that Harry was expected to depart Heathrow at 3.05pm but actually left at 5.19pm

Flight records show that Harry was expected to depart Heathrow at 3.05pm but actually left at 5.19pm

King Charles and Queen Camilla are pictured leaving Clarence House in London on Tuesday

King Charles and Queen Camilla are pictured leaving Clarence House in London on Tuesday

King Charles and Queen Camilla attend church at Sandringham in Norfolk on February 4, 2024

King Charles and Queen Camilla attend church at Sandringham in Norfolk on February 4, 2024

The meeting has raised hopes that the pair can repair their troubled relationship after Harry publicly criticised the royal family for unconscious racism and complained about the way Meghan was treated by palace officials.

Harry and Meghan walked away from royal duties in 2020 and now live in California.

Although the duke met his father, there was no meeting between the estranged siblings William and Harry, who have had a fractured relationship for a number of years.

Last night, the Prince of Wales spoke about the King’s cancer diagnosis for the first time as he expressed his gratitude to the public for their ‘kind messages of support’.

William’s words of praise, delivered during a fundraising gala dinner, also recognised those who wished the Princess of Wales well, as she recovers from planned abdominal surgery.

He told the guests: ‘It means a great deal to us all.’

The heir to the throne was back at work yesterday supporting the King as his brother Harry left London.

William had taken time off to support his family after Kate’s operation on January 16, and returned to public duties once her care and recovery had settled.

But his first day back on duty came as the royal family was dealing with the health scare surrounding his father, the head of state whose reign will pass the 17-month mark on Thursday.

William gave his pre-dinner speech at the event, raising funds for London’s Air Ambulance Charity’s new fleet of helicopters, where guests included Hollywood star Tom Cruise and Arsenal football club manager Mikel Arteta.

The prince said: ‘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. It means a great deal to us all.

‘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.’

Weekly audiences between the King and Rishi Sunak are expected to resume in person in two weeks following Charles’ cancer diagnosis, it is understood.

Downing Street and Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of confirming details of a call between the two on Wednesday, in an attempt to show the King was carrying on with his duties.

The Prime Minister wished Charles well in a brief phone conversation before formal face-to-face audiences are set to start again on February 21.

Kate left hospital last Monday and returned to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor to be reunited with her three children, but the 42-year-old future queen is not expected to return to official duties until after Easter.

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