King Charles III was deeply saddened ​due to his inability to attend the Royal Maundy service on Thursday, March 28, as he prepares to attend Easter Sunday services amid his ongoing cancer treatments.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is for me a great sadness that I cannot be with you all today,” Charles, 75, said in a prerecorded message, adding, “The Maundy service has a very special place in my heart.”

“In this country, we are blessed by all the different services that exist for our welfare. But over and above these organizations and their selfless staff, we need and benefit greatly from those that extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need,” he continued.

Charles cited the 150 men and women chosen to receive the Maundy money symbolic coins from ​Queen Camilla, who took over the duties in her ailing husband’s place. He called them “wonderful examples of such kindness, of going way beyond the call of duty and of giving so much of their lives to the service of others in their communities.” His message was played at Worcester Cathedral for Camilla, 76, and the attendees.

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The monarch said that the act of “worship 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.” Charles’ coronation and establishment as the head of the Church of England took place on May 6, 2023. He ascended as king on September 8, 2022, following the death of his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Easter Sunday service is traditionally attended by almost all members of the royal family. However, 2024’s service will be without Prince William, Princess Kate Middleton and their three children. Kate revealed on March 22 that she’s been diagnosed with cancer and has started preventative chemotherapy treatments.

Questions had remained whether Charles, who Buckingham Palace announced had been diagnosed with cancer on February 5, would be in attendance, as he too is undergoing treatment and had stepped away from public duties.

The palace confirmed on Tuesday, March 26, that the king and queen would be St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on March 31 for the traditional Easter service.

When announcing Charles’ diagnosis, the palace said the king “has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties. Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual,” which he has done.

His majesty has continued to work through his battle with cancer, receiving guests at Buckingham Palace in photos shared with the public. He’s also continued to hold his weekly meetings with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

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