King Charles III attends the Easter service

King Charles III attended an Easter church service at Windsor Castle on Sunday with Queen Camilla, later greeting well-wishers who had flocked to see his first significant public appearance since revealing last month that he had cancer.

Charles, 75, continued to work while undergoing treatment, welcoming visitors and holding his weekly meetings with the British prime minister, Rishi Sunak. But he suspended public commitments on the advice of his doctors.

Leaving the church after the service ended, Charles shook hands and chatted with people who had gathered outside, telling one: “You're very brave standing out here in the cold.”

His appearance in familiar surroundings, St George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle, was designed to restore a semblance of normality to a royal family that has been severely unbalanced this year by multiple health crises. Catherine, Princess of Wales, announced just over a week ago that she too had been diagnosed with cancer.

As expected, neither Catherine nor her husband, Prince William, showed up with their family at the ceremony. She has not made an official public appearance since Christmas Day, before entering hospital for abdominal surgery in January. In a video, Catherine said tests conducted after the operation found evidence of cancer.

Charles has been a much more visible presence since he became ill. He is photographed regularly speaking to dignitaries such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On Tuesday, the king, who has embraced religious pluralism, met leaders of different faiths at Buckingham Palace.

But he stayed away from larger gatherings. On Maundy Thursday, known in Britain as Maundy Thursday, Charles skipped a service where the monarch traditionally hands out gifts of special “Maundy Money” coins to people involved in community service. Camilla performed the ritual, in one of her most eye-catching appearances as a stunt double.

In a video recorded for the service, Charles said: “We need and benefit greatly from those who extend a hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need.” This was widely interpreted as an acknowledgment of the flood of well wishes that have poured in since he and Catherine announced their illness.

Buckingham Palace has suggested that Charles is impatient and wants to return to his regular schedule. But it was never specified what type of cancer he has, his prognosis or his treatment.

Two weeks ago, social media channels in Russia were flooded with false rumors that Charles had died. After the reports were picked up by several Russian news agencies, the British embassies in Moscow and Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, felt obliged to debunk them, calling them “fake news”.

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