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King Charles stresses importance of kindness as he skips pre-Easter service amid cancer treatment

King Charles III on Thursday stressed the importance of friendship and acts of caring in a recorded message delivered to a traditional pre-Easter church service, which the monarch skipped as he continues to undergo cancer treatment. Queen Camilla represented her husband during the Royal Maundy Service at Worcester Cathedral.

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LONDON (AP) 鈥 King Charles III on Thursday stressed the importance of friendship and acts of caring in a recorded message delivered to a traditional pre-Easter church service, which the monarch skipped as he continues to undergo cancer treatment.

Queen Camilla represented her husband during the Royal Maundy Service at Worcester Cathedral, presenting bags of specially minted coins to people being honored for public service. The event is held every year on the Thursday before Easter, known as Maundy Thursday in Britain.

The personal message from Charles comes after the recent announcements that both the king and the Princess of Wales had been diagnosed with cancer. While the message made no direct reference to the royals鈥 health problems, it marked the king鈥檚 first public comment since his daughter-in-law revealed she was undergoing chemotherapy.

Charles said that Jesus set an 鈥渆xample of how we should serve and care for each other,鈥 and how as a nation 鈥渨e need and benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need.鈥欌

The service, which dates back to the year 600, commemorates the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as an act of service and humility.

Sovereigns no longer wash the feet of the needy as they did in medieval times. Instead, Camilla presented purses filled with special coins, known as Maundy money, to 75 women and 75 men, a number dictated by the king鈥檚 age.

The service 鈥渞eminds me of the pledge I made at the beginning of the Coronation Service 鈥 to follow Christ鈥檚 example 鈥榥ot to be served but to serve,鈥欌 Charles said in his message. 鈥淭hat I have always tried to do and continue to do, with my whole heart.鈥

The king stepped back from public appearances in early February, when he announced that he would undergo treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer. He has continued to carry out his state duties, including regular meetings with the prime minister and reviewing and signing government documents.

The Princess of Wales, wife of Prince William, announced last week that she, too, was being treated for an undisclosed type of cancer. The news came after the princess, formerly Kate Middleton, underwent abdominal surgery in January.