William in front row of Baftas in first high-profile engagement since Kate’s op

The Prince of Wales took his seat in the front row of the Bafta film awards ceremony in his first high-profile royal engagement since his wife’s operation.

William, who is president of the arts charity, made his way down the red carpet at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday wearing a black bow tie and navy velvet suit jacket, waving to cameras and stopping to chat and take selfies with a few members of the public.

William and members of the public on red carpet
William chatted with members of the public on the red carpet (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

At the prestigious film event last year, William was accompanied by the Princess of Wales, who had abdominal surgery on January 16 at the London Clinic and has since returned home to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor to be with their three children.

He made apologies for Kate’s absence at a short meet and greet before taking his seat.

From the red carpet, the prince was escorted through the venue by Bafta chief executive Jane Millichip before meeting a group of organisers just outside the entrance to the auditorium.

William greeting Cate Blanchett
William sat next to Cate Blanchett, who is also a member of the Earthshot Prize council (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

He met senior figures from Bafta, the Southbank Centre and EE, which is sponsoring the awards, chatting with them about some of the nominated films.

Speaking with Elaine Bedell, chief executive of the Southbank Centre, he made apologies for his wife’s absence, saying she loves the Bafta film awards.

He told Charlotte Moore, chief content officer at the BBC, that he “loved” Oppenheimer, for which Cillian Murphy is nominated in the best actor category.

William then moved into the auditorium to take his seat in the front row next to Australian actress and Earthshot Prize council member Cate Blanchett, whom he greeted warmly.

William and Elaine Bedell
William and Elaine Bedell, chief executive of the Southbank Centre (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

He stood briefly to chat with former footballer David Beckham before the ceremony got underway.

Also sat in the front row of the 2,400-seat auditorium were actors Michael Sheen and Richard E Grant, as well as Saltburn director Emerald Fennell.