Prince William’s decision to keep his coronavirus infection secret has been questioned by royal experts, who believe he should have informed the public.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the Duke of Cambridge’s decision not to reveal his diagnosis was ‘questionable’ and ‘a retrograde step’ in terms of transparency. Chris Ship, royal editor for ITV, also questioned the ‘wisdom’ of hiding his positive test from the public.
The second in line to the throne is understood to have tested positive in April – around the same time as his father Prince Charles – and hunkered down at the family home of Anmer Hall in Norfolk during a period in self-isolation.
But it only emerged seven months later last night when sources told The Sun he had privately opened up about his short stint which left him ‘breathless’.
It is believed William kept his infection quiet so not to alarm an already nervous public confronted with a rampant virus that had already struck down the Prime Minister.
William told one observer at an engagement: ‘There were important things going on and I didn’t want to worry anyone.’
However Mr Little today said: ‘Was it wise on the part of Kensington Palace to suppress it? I suppose you could say that we’re living in extremely unusual times and it was done with the best of intentions. But with the benefit of hindsight, I suppose it is questionable.’
Prince William and Kate visiting the London Ambulance Service in Croydon on March 19. It is understood the prince was infected in April
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out their first royal engagement via video call to school children whose parents are working on the frontline on April 8
Prince Charles speaks to the nation whilst recovering from coronavirus
Prince William’s royal duties in the Spring
March 19: William and Kate visit the London Ambulance Service in Croydon.
April 1: William calls staff at Queen’s Hospital Burton following the death of consultant Amged El-Hawrani, 55.
April 8: William and Kate carry out their first royal engagement via video call to school children whose parents are working on the frontline.
April 9: – April 15: The prince has a seven-day break from calls and video messages.
April 16: Prince William opens Birmingham Nightingale hospital via video link.
April 23: Prince William makes a surprise appearance in a Blackadder sketch with Stephen Fry in aid of the Big Night In coronavirus fundraiser.
April 23: William joins the family to lead fifth week of Clap For the Carers.
The commentator suggested: ‘I think with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been sensible once he was fully recovered to say: “Well look, I’ve had it, but I’m okay now”.
‘We could have found out at the end of April rather than in November. It’s inevitable that these things get out in the end.’
He added: ‘Is it the biggest of deals? I’m not sure it necessarily is but it kind of makes you wonder what else is being suppressed? It’s all about transparency these days and this is a retrograde step, I suppose.’
ITV’s Mr Ship wrote: ‘Whilst William & his aides might have taken their decision in good faith, questions might be raised about the wisdom of hiding such significant news from the public.
‘Prince William is second in line to the throne.’
Royal author Penny Junor also weighed in to describe the decision not to make William’s diagnosis public as ‘very odd’, saying it went against royal precedent.
Ms Junor said: ‘When I heard it, I thought: “Surely it can’t be true because we would have been told any important news”.
‘It’s very odd, because we do normally know things that are regarded as in the public interest if anything happens to one of our leaders.’
She cited being told whenever the Prince of Wales was injured while playing polo and when William suffered a depressed fracture to the forehead after he was accidentally hit on the head with a golf club at school in 1991.
Ms Junor added: ‘I would have thought William having coronavirus was also in the spirit of that precedent.
‘We perhaps should have known because he’s not a private individual.’
Charles’s coronavirus battle and making this publicly known allowed him to share his experience with others also facing the disease, the author added.
‘Prince Charles was able to speak with and be alongside people who had also had it. Instead of being a sort of precious royal who was wrapped up in cotton wool and kept away and immune to the diseases that the rest of the world gets, he had suffered. And I think it might have been helpful if we’d known that William had also had the virus.’
In his first public engagement after recovering from mild symptoms, Charles revealed he lost his sense of taste and smell.
He spoke of his personal experience with Covid-19 when he met frontline NHS staff and key workers in person with the Duchess of Cornwall in June.
Ms Junor added that it was perhaps a sign William was setting out a new path for the royals as to what is deemed in the public interest.
‘For the rest of us, one’s health is private. But William’s position is slightly different. But maybe that’s not the way it should be in the future – maybe he’s forging a new path here and maybe that’s no bad thing.’
That month, William continued working and made 14 telephone and video calls despite sources revealing he was rocked by the disease.
A source told The Sun: ‘William was hit pretty hard by the virus – it really knocked him for six.
‘At one stage he was struggling to breathe, so obviously everyone around him was pretty panicked.
‘After seeing medics and testing positive – which was obviously quite a shock given how fit and healthy he is – William was determined it should be business as usual though. He was determined to fulfil his engagements.’
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wear face masks during a visit to Beigel Bake Brick Lane Bakery on September 15, 2020 in London
Some 23,254 cases were reported in the last 24 hours – 17.5 per cent more than the 19,790 cases seen last Sunday
A further 162 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Britain today, in the highest Sunday rise seen since May
William made reference to his father’s coronavirus infection only last week in a conversation with TV presenter Kate Garraway, 53, during the Pride of Britain awards
Following the news that his father and the Prime Minister had both fallen ill, William believed that going public with his sickness would only add to the nation’s anxieties.
As the Queen gave her impassioned ‘We Will Meet Again’ address, the Duke decided it would be better not to add to Britain’s strain, sources said.
And despite the impact the virus had on him, the father-of-three continued to contact frontline NHS workers to tell them how ‘proud’ he was of their commitment.
Indeed, his having caught coronavirus brought home to him just how terrible the contagion is and that it can strike anybody down, a source told The Sun.
William made reference to his father’s coronavirus infection only last week in a conversation with TV presenter Kate Garraway, 53, during the Pride of Britain awards.
The prince told that he and the Duchess of Cambridge wanted to give her a hug after hearing that her husband was critically ill with Covid-19.
They were deeply moved by the story of her husband Derek Draper, also 53, who was taken to hospital with Covid symptoms in March.
Garraway pointed out: ‘You’ve had it in your own family!’, to which William replied: ‘Yeah, my father had it very early on,’ without noting his own spell with the illness.’
It is unknown when the prince contracted the virus. On March 19, a week before the nation was plunged into lockdown, he and Kate visited the London Ambulance Service in Croydon.
On April 1, he called staff at Queen’s Hospital Burton following the death of consultant Amged El-Hawrani, 55.
From April 9, the prince had a seven-day break from calls and video messages. He then officially opened the NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham – via video link – on April 16.
William and Kate with George, seven, Charlotte, five, and Louis, two, leading the nation in the ‘Clap for Carers’ in April
On April 16, he opened Birmingham’s Nightingale Hospital via video link and praised staff there for their ‘wonderful example.’
Just days later he appeared on Comic Relief in a pre-recorded sketch alongside Stephen Fry.
He was also filmed outside Anmer Hall leading Kate, 38, and their children George, 7, Charlotte, 5, and Louis, 2, in the ‘Clap for Carers.’
The prince decided to keep his diagnosis secret amid the height of the first wave, which saw the daily death toll regularly top 1,000.
Both Prince Charles and Mr Johnson were diagnosed with the virus in March – with the latter hospitalised on April 5.
The Prime Minister was admitted to St Thomas’ hospital in central London the day after the Queen delivered her special lockdown address to the nation.
The royal source said of William’s illness: ‘As a result of his own experiences, he realises absolutely anyone can catch this awful disease and knows how imperative it is that we all take this second lockdown seriously.
Kate and William met six representatives of the NHS to discuss their work during the pandemic and to present them with the special recognition award at Britain’s oldest hospital, St Bartholomew’s in the City of London.
Kensington Palace declined to comment. Sources also confirmed the The Sun’s report to the BBC.
William talks to a patient participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial at Oxford Vaccine Group’s facility at Churchill Hospital in Oxford, west of London on June 24, 2020
William meets with scientists during a visit to the manufacturing laboratory where a vaccine against the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has been produced at the Oxford Vaccine Group’s facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, west of London on June 24, 2020
Prince William, President of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, during a visit to The Royal Marsden in Sutton to meet staff and patient on October 21
The Cambridge’s in lockdown: What royal engagements did Prince William carry out from home in April?
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent lockdown at their Norfolk home of Anmer Hall with their children, Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two.
The couple are understood to have enjoyed the extra time the lockdown allowed them to spend with their children – with Kate taking a lead on the youngsters’ schoolwork.
But the period had even more challenges for the family than previously understood as it was today revealed that Prince William secretly battled coronavirus in April.
That month, William continued working and made 14 telephone and video calls despite sources revealing he was rocked by the disease.
Here are some of the public engagements the Duke of Cambridge carried out from home the month he fell ill:
April 1: William calls staff at Queen’s Hospital Burton following the death of consultant Amged El-Hawrani, 55
April 8: William and Kate carry out their first royal engagement via video call to school children whose parents are working on the frontline
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out their first royal engagement via video call to school children whose parents are working on the frontline on April 8.
William, 37, and Kate, 38, were seen giggling as the pupils, wearing Easter-themed bunny ears, presented them with a ‘virtual’ bouquet of paper flowers.
The couple, dialing in from their Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, spoke to staff and youngsters from Casterton Primary Academy in Lancashire, where teachers are helping to look after the children of key workers in frontline services including the NHS and social care, as well as supermarkets and delivery drivers.
The Duke and Duchess were keen to thank staff for all they were doing during the Covid-19 epidemic as well talk about the effect it is having on the youngsters.
April 9 – April 15: The prince has a seven-day break from calls and video messages
April 16: Prince William opens Birmingham Nightingale hospital via video link
The Duke of Cambridge officially opened Birmingham’s Nightingale Hospital on April 16.
Prince William, 37, said the temporary field hospital – built inside the NEC exhibition centre in just eight days – was also a ‘wonderful example’ of the ‘pulling together’ going on up and down the UK amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
He later released footage of a call he made to the team behind the hospital to thank them for their efforts – and was told the temporary facility was built ‘on kindness’.
William spoke to a group of staff via videophone from his Norfolk home to learn more about the project and their experiences working while the country is in lockdown, a clip of the conversation was posted on Instagram.
The Duke of Cambridge, 37, has praised the ‘herculean effort’ of NHS staff and thanked them for their’ ‘selfless commitment’ as he officially opened Birmingham ‘s Nightingale Hospital today. Pictured, pictured speaking via video link from his home, Amner Hall in Norfolk
April 23: Prince William makes a surprise appearance in a Blackadder sketch with Stephen Fry in aid of the Big Night In coronavirus fundraiser
Prince William appeared on a Zoom call with Stephen Fry who reprised his iconic role as Lord Melchett in a hilarious Blackadder sketch for The Big Night In coronavirus fundraiser.
Melchett paced around his office impatiently waiting for the Duke to call in, quipping: ‘I thought Germans were meant to be punctual’.
Apologising, William said Zoom was ‘complicated stuff’, later revealing homeschooling Prince George, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte is proving a ‘bit of a nightmare’ in lockdown.
The Duke said he is struggling to cope with not being able to watch EastEnders, but refused the Blackadder star’s recommendation of trying Netflix sensation Tiger King instead, adding: ‘I tend to avoid shows about royalty.’
As their virtual exchange drew to a close, Melchett reminded William to go out and clap for the NHS at 8pm, before William joked about not wearing any trousers.
The show then cut to the Cambridges clapping on their doorstep in Norfolk as part of the weekly show of gratitude for health and social care workers.
Stephen Fry (pictured in the top right hand corner of the laptop screen) reprised his role as Melchett in Blackadder to take a Zoom call with Prince William (main) to lead fifth week of Clap For the Carers – as MILLIONS of Britons noisily salute key workers from their doorsteps
April 23: William joins the family to lead fifth week of Clap For the Carers – as MILLIONS of Britons noisily salute key workers from their doorsteps
Prince William, Kate Middleton and their children all wore NHS blue as they led the Clap for Carers on April 23.
William stood alongside Kate, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis who all put their hands together and praise everyone from NHS healthcare workers to shop assistants who are risking their lives to keep the country going.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children clapping for NHS and frontline workers on Thursday