UK’s King Charles III attends church for first time since revealing he has cancer

PA via AP
Britain’s King Charles III and Queen Camilla leave after attending a Sunday church service at St Mary Magdalene Church, in Sandringham, Norfolk, England, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024.

LONDON (AP) — King Charles III cheerfully waved to well-wishers on Sunday as he left church services near his country estate in eastern England, making his first public appearance since his cancer diagnosis was announced last week.

Wearing a tan overcoat against the February chill and carrying a rolled-up umbrella, Charles was joined by Queen Camilla at St. Mary Magdalene Church, just a few hundred yards from Sandringham House where the king is recuperating after his first treatment for an unspecified form of cancer.

The 20,000-acre Sandringham estate, some 110 miles (180 kilometers) north of London, is a favorite refuge of the king’s and offers a place of shelter where he can isolate from the risk of infection.

The appearance came a day after Charles expressed thanks for the messages of support he has received from the public. In a statement issued late Saturday, the monarch said that such thoughts are “the greatest comfort and encouragement.”

“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 organizations which support cancer patients and their families across the U.K. and wider world,” he said in a statement, signed Charles R.

“My lifelong admiration for their tireless care and dedication is all the greater as a result of my own personal experience.”

Buckingham Palace announced the king’s diagnosis on Monday, less than three weeks after he was treated for an enlarged prostate. While palace officials didn’t disclose the type of cancer, they said it wasn’t prostate cancer.

On Sunday, a crowd of about 100 gathered outside the gates of the estate to show their support for the king. Charles and Camilla greeted a priest as they walked into the Anglican church, and waved to the crowd as they left.

St. Mary Magdalene is a medieval stone church that was restored in the 19th century. Protected as a historic building, the church includes memorials to the royal family stretching from Princess Alice in 1879 to King George VI, Charles’ grandfather, in 1952.

Nearby Sandringham House, the private home of the past six British monarchs, sits amid parkland, gardens and working farms. It has been owned by the royal family since 1862.

Charles has visited the estate regularly since he was a child, when he would run through the halls playing tag and hide-and-seek with his mother, according to biographer Jonathan Dimbleby. In later years he has retreated to the estate on the north coast of Norfolk to enjoy hunting and nature walks through the windswept countryside.