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King Charles spoke about friendship and service during his first speech since Kate Middleton’s cancer diagnosis was revealed on Thursday, March 28. The king’s remarks were pre-recorded and played during a Maundy Thursday service at Worcester Cathedral in England. He spoke about the importance of friendship and leading through service during the emotional message.

At the start of the speech, Charles expressed his disappointment that he would not be able to physically be there for the service, before sharing a story about Jesus. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is for me a great sadness that I cannot be with you all today. The Maundy Service has a very special place in my heart. It has its origin in the life of our Lord, who knelt before his disciples and to their great surprise, washed their travel-weary feet,” he said. “As we have just heard, in doing so, he deliberately gave to them and to us all an example of how we should serve and care for each other.”

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While speaking about the many organizations that help people across the U.K. and the “kindness” of different people who service their communities, Charles spoke about how friendship is very important during difficult times. “We need and benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in our time of need,” he said.

As he concluded, he spoke about how he tries to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as he offered an Easter message to the congregation. This act of worship here in Worcester Cathedral reminds me of the pledge I made at the beginning of the coronation service to follow Christ’s example not to be served but to serve. That, I have always tried to do and continue to do with my whole heart. It is my special prayer today that our Lord’s example of serving one another might continue to inspire us and to strengthen all our communities,” he said. “May God bless you all this Easter.”

The speech came over a month after Charles announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer, after undergoing a procedure for an enlarged prostate. While undergoing treatment, he’s continued to make occasional public appearances.

Charles’ Easter message also came about a week after his daughter-in-law Kate Middleton revealed that she’d also been diagnosed with cancer. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said that he’s very supportive of the Princess of Wales amid her own health battle. “[The king] is so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did,” they said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight. 

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