The Prince of Wales joked about his headline-making velvet slippers in conversation with the American actor
The Prince of Wales, 41, and the Top Gun star, 61, reunited at the fundraiser at The OWO hotel on Wednesday evening. Their photo opp in matching tuxedos and black bow ties, captured on video and shared to X by Rebecca English of the Daily Mail, prompted the royal to recall one of the most stylish pieces in his closet.
Prince William motioned towards his feet and told the American actor, "I haven’t got my Top Gun slippers on tonight."
Prince William completed his look with shiny black dress shoes for the charity gala, but he was referring to his Crockett & Jones black velvet loafers embroidered with airplanes that made headlines at the U.K. premiere of Top Gun: Maverick in May 2022, the last time he saw Cruise. Each slipper featured an F-18 Super Hornet in honor of the aircraft famously featured in the Top Gun films, but the detail was no surprise for royal watchers. Prince William previously served as a pilot with the Royal Air Force and as an air ambulance helicopter pilot, making his interest in the film — and the fun choice of footwear — a natural fit.
"Having the Royal Warrant for HRH Prince Charles meant that we were gratefully approached to produce the slippers for HRH Prince William on this occasion, proudly turning the slippers around in just 2 weeks, usually a 2-month process. One has little choice but to jump around for such a prestigious customer," a spokesperson for Crockett & Jones said at the time.
"It gives us great pride to be associated with such a wonderful and historic family, and to have two members of the royal family wear our footwear, a just a few weeks before the Jubilee celebration [for Queen Elizabeth], is nothing short of incredible,” they added.
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Cruise has met members of the British royal family on several occasions through the years, and attended the funeral of Prince William's mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. He and Prince William most recently crossed paths at Top Gun: Maverick premiere in London, where the actor chivalrously lent Kate Middleton a hand as she navigated stairs in a long Roland Mouret gown.
Prince William’s appearance at the London’s Air Ambulance Charity Gala Dinner came on the first day he returned to royal duty after Princess Kate had abdominal surgery on Jan. 16 and was discharged following a 13-day hospital stay on Jan. 29. Prince William cleared his calendar to support his wife and their three children, Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5, during that time, and he expressed gratitude for the well-wishes sent to his family during his speech at the gala dinner on Wednesday.
One week after the palace announced that Princess Kate was home from the hospital, they revealed that King Charles was diagnosed with cancer. The news was publicized shortly after the King, 75, underwent a procedure to treat a benign enlarged prostate on Jan. 26. The update came one week after the King left the London Clinic, the same hospital where Princess Kate was treated, following a three-day stay after his surgery. (The palace clarified that the monarch does not have prostate cancer.)
Prince William took the stage at the charity gala on Wednesday to give a speech, where he thanked those who made the event possible.
"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,” he continued. "It means a great deal to us all."
Keeping the mood light, the Prince of Wales quipped, "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!"
Prince William praised the "top class care" provided by London's Air Ambulance team, which can bring the hospital emergency department to the scene of an incident anywhere in the city. He spoke from personal experience as a former air ambulance pilot in East Anglia and a patron of London's Air Ambulance since 2020.
The organization is hoping to raise $19 million by the fall, and Prince William stressed the urgency of the campaign.
"Here in London, the current aircraft have served magnificently," he said. "But our capital city needs a new fleet. And we are Up Against Time. The clue really is in the Appeal's name. By September, we need the two new red birds — decked with the latest kit such as night vision — in our skies.”
Prince William then gave Cruise a special shoutout, referencing his skills in the skies in another film franchise.
"I should also take this opportunity to give a mention to my — our — fellow pilot, Tom Cruise," the royal continued. "Tom, huge thanks for supporting us tonight. And Tom, if you wouldn't mind not borrowing either of the new helicopters for the next Mission Impossible, it would be appreciated. We have all seen on our screens that — how can I put it — you seem to have a different take on 'normal wear and tear' to the rest of us. It's not the kind that buffs out."
Prince William wrapped up his speech by saying, "Anyway, my thanks to everyone. You are all, each and everyone, lifesavers."
The Prince of Wales’ first day back at work began with a morning of investitures at Windsor Castle, conducted on behalf of his father the King. While the duty was announced before Buckingham Palace shared the news about the King’s health, Prince William is expected to step out (like Queen Camilla) and be the face of the monarchy.
“It is hard with Kate being ill as well, but he will step up,” a source close to the royal household tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week's issue.
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