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Queen does audience with PM by phone while Prince of Wales self-isolates with Covid-19

The Guardian logo The Guardian 3 days ago Caroline Davies

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(Video by ITN News)

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.

Boris Johnson, Elizabeth II are posing for a picture: Composite: Andrew Parsons/PA © Provided by The Guardian Composite: Andrew Parsons/PA

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.”

Gallery: Queen Elizabeth II over the years (Photo Services)


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.”

BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - (ARCHIVE) : A file photo dated on January 24, 2020 shows the Prince of Wales, Charles meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in Bethlehem, West Bank. Prince Charles, next in line to the British throne, has tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) © 2020 Anadolu Agency BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - (ARCHIVE) : A file photo dated on January 24, 2020 shows the Prince of Wales, Charles meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in Bethlehem, West Bank. Prince Charles, next in line to the British throne, has tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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.

In this photo made available by Buckingham Palace, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II speaks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Windsor Castle, Windsor, England, Wednesday March 25, 2020, for her weekly audience. Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the new coronavirus, royal officials confirmed Wednesday. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II, 93, remains at her Windsor Castle home west of London with her 98-year-old husband, Prince Philip. (Buckingham Palace via AP) © ASSOCIATED PRESS In this photo made available by Buckingham Palace, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II speaks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Windsor Castle, Windsor, England, Wednesday March 25, 2020, for her weekly audience. Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the new coronavirus, royal officials confirmed Wednesday. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II, 93, remains at her Windsor Castle home west of London with her 98-year-old husband, Prince Philip. (Buckingham Palace via AP)

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.

Charles has spoken both to the Duke of Cambridge, who is in Norfolk, and the Duke of Sussex, who is on Vancouver Island, since his diagnosis.

Customers queue at a Costco in Leicester, as the Chancellor is to unveil an emergency package aimed at protecting workers' jobs and wates as they face hardship in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images) © PA Wire/PA Images Customers queue at a Costco in Leicester, as the Chancellor is to unveil an emergency package aimed at protecting workers' jobs and wates as they face hardship in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Though he has had no public engagements since 12 March, he has hosted a small number of private meetings at Highgrove, his home in Gloucestershire, on Duchy of Cornwall business. The relevant people have been informed, but it is not known if they have been tested.

The couple fulfilled the criteria for testing by the NHS in Scotland. A spokesperson for the Scottish government said in statement: “Dr Catherine Calderwood, chief medical officer for Scotland, has confirmed that their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay [their official titles in Scotland] were tested for Covid-19 for clinical reasons. She is very pleased to confirm that both remain in good health.”

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Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading - here is what you can and can't do. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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