The Prince of Wales has coronavirus, it emerged on Wednesday, as hundreds of guests at a Commonwealth service attended by Charles and the Queen were told a flag-bearer at the event had tested positive for coronavirus.
Charles was said to be “up and about” and in good spirits at Birkhall, his 53,000-acre Highland estate in Scotland. He was tested on Monday after experiencing mild symptoms.
Meanwhile pictures emerged of the Queen conducting her weekly audience with Boris Johnson by telephone from Windsor Castle. The monarch has held the weekly meeting with whoever is prime minister throughout her reign.
Clarence House said in a statement: “It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”
Charles joined the Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on 9 March. About 2,000 people, including politicians, ambassadors and schoolchildren, also attended the service.
It emerged on Wednesday that a person present at the service, understood to be one of the 54 flag-bearers, had also since tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. A Commonwealth secretariat spokesperson said: “Staff and other guests were informed immediately and urged to follow WHO and NHS advice. All staff are currently working from home.”
Charles, 71, was tested by the NHS after fulfilling the criteria in Aberdeenshire given his age and symptoms. He is self-isolating away from the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, also at Birkhall, but who has tested negative for the virus. She is also self-isolating.
The announcement by Clarence House raised immediate concerns for the health of the Queen. She last saw Charles on 12 March, following an investiture at Buckingham Palace, when the two met briefly. Doctors believe the earliest Charles would have been infectious is 13 March.
Buckingham Palace said: “Her Majesty the Queen remains in good health. The Queen last saw the Prince of Wales briefly on the morning of 12 March and is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.”
Charles’s last public engagement was also on 12 March, when he attended a Mansion House dinner hosted by William Russell, the lord mayor of the City of London, and George Brandis, the high commissioner for Australia, in aid of the bushfire relief and recovery effort.
The prince attended a WaterAid meeting in central London on 10 March. Prince Albert of Monaco, who revealed five days ago that he had tested positive for Covid-19, was also at the meeting.
Medical advice is that it is unlikely Charles’s condition will escalate into a more serious case. He is thought to have first exhibited symptoms over the weekend, but they were not pronounced enough for him to reconsider his travel plans.
There was no comment on exactly what symptoms Charles had displayed, except that they were mild.
He and the duchess arrived at Birkhall, which is on the Balmoral estate, on Sunday. There is a small team of domestic staff with them, which will remain. The couple are said not to be interacting physically with their staff.