King attends Easter Sunday service but Prince and Princess of Wales absent

The King went walkabout, chatting and shaking hands with well-wishers after attending the traditional Easter Sunday church service at Windsor Castle in a rare public appearance since he was diagnosed with cancer.

The 75-year-old monarch, who has stepped back from major public engagements while receiving treatment, looked in good spirits for the occasion where he was joined by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family.

As he emerged from St George's Chapel, King Charles was greeted by cries of "Happy Easter" and applause from the public gathered outside, while Queen Camilla was presented with a posy of white and yellow flowers by a young boy.

One man told the head of state: "Keep going strong and never give in."

Light-heartedly, he replied: "I have to obey my instructions."

The Prince and Princess of Wales were not at the service, coming just over a week after Kate released an emotional video message revealing she had started preventative chemotherapy for cancer.

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Earlier, as King Charles, wearing a dark coat and blue tie, arrived, one person shouted "Happy Easter", to which he gestured with his arm and responded: "And to you."

Anne Daley, 65, from Cardiff, Wales, holding up a Welsh flag, said: "He had a lovely smile. He looked well.

"I think he was happy that we've all come."

The Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and Sarah, Duchess of York, were among those to attend.

Royal biographer Robert Hardman hailed the service as a "considerable turning point" for the royal household.

He told Sky News: "If you compare where we are now with the King with where we were shortly after his cancer diagnosis, royalists everywhere will be pretty cheered up with the sights we are seeing in Windsor."

The King's attendance at church will be seen as a move to reassure the public about his own health and following the shock news about his daughter-in-law.

Kate, 42, William, 41, and their three children - George, 10, Charlotte, eight, and five-year-old Louis - are spending the Easter holidays together as they adjust to her diagnosis, which was discovered in post-operative tests after abdominal surgery.

Read more:
Queen discusses what King is like as a patient
King 'frustrated' about speed of cancer recovery

The Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute both the King and princess in his Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral as he commended their "dignity".

Encouraging the congregation to pray for them, Justin Welby said: "In each of our lives, there are moments which change us forever - sometimes it is individual.

"We have watched and sympathised with, and felt alongside, the dignity of the King and the Princess of Wales as they have talked of their cancer and in doing so, by their lack of selfishness, by their grace and their faith, boosted so many others."

Kate's video message followed weeks of speculation and conspiracy theories on social media about her whereabouts because she had not been seen on official engagements since last December.

Speculation was fuelled further when she admitted editing a family photograph posted on Mother's Day.

The King, who was diagnosed with cancer in February, is said to be "proud" of his "beloved" daughter-in-law for her "courage" in speaking about her treatment, while Harry and Meghan have also offered words of support.

Earlier this month, Charles said he had been reduced to tears by the messages and cards of support he had received.

Despite his illness, the sovereign has been carrying out low-key official duties behind palace walls, including holding an audience with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and welcoming the high commissioners of Jamaica, Tanzania and Singapore.

Ahead of Easter, the King reaffirmed his coronation pledge "not to be served, but to serve" with "my whole heart" in an audio address broadcast to a congregation at Worcester Cathedral where the Royal Maundy service was held in his absence on Thursday.