As Prince William returned to royal duties following several weeks out of the spotlight on Wednesday night, he was joined by a very famous face.
The Prince of Wales, 41, attended a gala for the London Air Ambulance Charity in his first day back at work – and to the delight of royal fans, he teamed up with Hollywood actor Tom Cruise to attend the event at the Old War Office.
The pair, both looking sharp in tuxedos, beamed as they stood side-by-side in a snap posted on the Prince and Princess of Wales’s X/Twitter account, with the caption: ‘Fancy seeing you here!’
But for the more eagle-eyed royal watchers, Cruise’s appearance at a royal event may not be much of a surprise at all – indeed, the 61-year-old Hollywood legend has attended a number of events with the royals over the years and has had starring roles in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, as well as the Coronation Concert.
He has known to rub shoulders with the Prince and Princess of Wales, Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, and Princess Diana – and has even said King Charles can be his ‘wingman’.
Tom Cruise’s cosy appearance with Prince William at the London Air Ambulance gala on Wednesday is not his first royal connection
Appearing at the London Air Ambulance event in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, the famed Scientologist twinned with Prince William in black tie – and the royal even made a nod to Cruise, who has donated millions to the charity, in his speech.
‘Here in London, the current aircraft have served magnificently. 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.
‘I should also take this opportunity to give a mention to my – our – fellow pilot, Tom Cruise. Tom, huge thanks for supporting us tonight.
The 61-year-old movie star famously took the Princess of Wales’s hand as he led her up the stairs at the Top Gun: Maverick premiere
‘And 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, that’s for sure.’
Cruise has continued to bond with members of the royal family with a love of flying over the years – not least, Her late Majesty the Queen.
In the late monarch’s final weeks at Windsor Castle before travelling to Balmoral where she died, she invited Cruise for tea at the royal residence.
She was said to have been disappointed that she had not met the star during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which had taken place earlier that summer.
Despite not seeing the Queen during the week of celebrations, Cruise appeared in a segment of the at the Jubilee, and said of her: ‘She’s a woman I greatly admire. She has tremendous dignity and I admire her devotion. What she has accomplished has been historic.’
Insiders said the pair ‘really hit it off’ during their meeting and the late Queen ‘loved seeing him’ – and she even allowed him to land his helicopter on the lawn of the Castle.
Cruise was even invited back for lunch – but the Queen sadly passed away before he could return.
The Hollywood star, who had been filming his latest Mission Impossible film in the UK, said: ‘She’s just a woman that I greatly admire. I think she is someone who has tremendous dignity and I admire her devotion.
‘What she has accomplished has been historic. I just remember always as a kid seeing photos of her.’
A source told The Times: ‘The Queen let it be known she was really disappointed not to have met Tom at the pageant.
‘So he was invited to have a special tour of Windsor Castle with everything laid on for him. Afterwards, just the two of them had tea together.
‘She loved seeing him and they really hit it off, so much so that she invited him back for lunch.’
Cruise met Princess Dian several times during the 1990s – including in 1992 at the charity premiere of Far and Away
Despite missing out on the Platinum Jubilee celebrations that June, Cruise flew to London later in the month for his Top Gun: Maverick premiere – and invited two very special royal guests along.
The star was accompanied by the Prince and Princess of Wales on the red carpet – and during the appearance, the Hollywood star noted he has ‘a lot in common’ with the royal.
Speaking about the royal couple, he praised ‘what they do for their country’.
He continued: ‘We have a lot in common. We love England, we’re both aviators, so it’s just going to be a really wonderful evening.’
During the red carpet appearance, the actor even held out his hand for Kate in a gesture of chivalry as they ascended the steps to the stage.
At the time, a PR expert speculated that Cruise’s decision to invite the royals to his premiere, which was also a charity event, might have been part of a little-known industry trick known as ‘brand halo’ in which people in the public eye associate themselves with something positive in the hope the glossy sheen rubs off on their own image.
‘We see people hang around celebrities, want to be photographed at high profile events, and to be seemingly ‘endorsed’ by well-liked entities online,’ Lida Citroen said.
The late Queen is said to have been disappointed she was unable to meet Cruise during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations and invited him for tea at Windsor Castle shortly before she died
‘It’s possible this is the strategy behind Cruise’s promotion of his new movie with an institution as popular and well-recognised as the Royal Family.’
Although naysayers may dismiss Cruise’s association with the royals as a PR stunt, his connection to the family goes back a long way – and he was even friends with Princess Diana.
In 1992, when he was married to Nicole Kidman, Cruise invited Diana to another London premiere of Far and Away.
However, it has been reported that Diana might not have been quite so enamored with the actor as he was with the royal family.
Former royal chef Darren McGrady once recalled how Princess Diana said Cruise was ‘off the list’ in terms of dating options because he was ‘too short’.
The royal had met with Cruise again on the set of Mission: Impossible, and brought Prince Harry and Prince William along.
Despite the occasional reported ‘snub’, Cruise’s love of the royals has endured – and he even made a cameo at the King’s Coronation Concert.
The Hollywood star appeared in a VT played during the concert from his fighter jet – where he delivered a special message for King Charles.
He said: ‘Pilot to pilot, Your Majesty. ‘You can be my wingman.’