Prince William crisis: How Duke’s secret would have caused ‘panic stations’ if known

Kate Middleton and Prince William: A look at their 2020 highlights

The Duke of Cambridge said in November that he had tested positive for coronavirus in April, sparking debate as to whether he should have been honest with the public at the time. William’s diagnosis came just weeks after his father Prince Charles tested positive. The fact that both the heir and second-in-line to the throne had COVID-19 might have caused people to worry, so William decided to keep it to himself.

Pod Save the Queen is hosted by Ann Gripper and features Daily Mirror royal editor Russell Myers.

Mr Myers said he understood William’s decision because it would have been an “absolute crisis” if people had known, especially because there was so little known about the virus at the time.

He said: “It was a mad time, I remember bursting into the kitchen and announcing ‘Prince Charles has got coronavirus!’

“And I think that was probably the first time I thought ‘Oh my God, this is really serious’.

“Prince Charles, we know he’s a fit and healthy man, he’s 71, but because he’s 71 it was always, talking about older people are more at risk, everyone over 50 and 60 were at risk, at that stage we didn’t really know about the trajectory of the virus, everyone was really worried, we were going into the lockdown.

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“And then Boris Johnson, and then now obviously we’ve found out that William had it only a couple of weeks later, and can you imagine if that had come out at the time?

“I think it would have been complete panic stations and I can actually sympathise with why they didn’t announce it at the time and that William has since let it be known that he did have it and then did recover, because it would have been an absolute crisis at the time.

“I mean, it was just an absolute juggernaut wasn’t it, day after day after day, headlines and figures and stats and looking at graphs that nobody understood.

“And certainly there was a very, very bizarre feeling and I don’t think we’ll ever want to go back to that.”

Ms Gripper added that William caught coronavirus very early on when everything was still new and they were still trying to work out the best treatments and precautions.

She said: “It was also all unknown and all new and people were still trying to figure out how to treat it and were there drugs that could help or not?”

The pair went on to discuss how William was the brains behind the Royal Family’s 2020 strategy to start using video calls in the place of in-person engagements.

The coronavirus pandemic meant people were told to work from home if they were able to and the Royal Family were no exception.

Video calls allowed them to continue meeting people, stay visible and even broaden their remit by talking to people from across the Commonwealth.

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Mr Myers explained how it was William, as one of the younger working royals, who came up with this idea and then got Prince Charles on board.

He and Kate have a strong social media team who were able to help them get their message out.

Mr Myers said: “Charles and William were actually the two that put their heads together ‒ actually William was coming up with it first and saying, ‘We need to take this on a digital platform’.

“They’re the guys who had a decent social media team, they’re quite young. Am I allowed to call them young?

“So they were the tech-savvy ones, they knew the reach you can have on social media and said, ‘Right, let’s get involved straight away’.

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“Then Charles, who was already carrying out all his meetings on video calls, knew that he could do exactly the same thing and then got fully involved with it after a conversation with William.”

The royal editor also claimed this digital aspect of the Royal Family’s work will not go away, even when the pandemic has subsided.

He argued that, while nothing beats traditional engagements and royal tours, there are some advantages to making video calls.

Video calls allow members of the Royal Family to reach the “four corners of the planet” without going through the effort of traveling there, meaning they can communicate with people in the Commonwealth outside of scheduled overseas trips.

For this reason, they are likely to incorporate them into their working life in the future.

He said: “This whole ‘digital first’ aspect of the Royal Family is something that will carry on.

“Obviously, you can’t replace getting out, doing the job, going on tours, getting out and cutting ribbons and opening plaques or actually meeting people ‒ if you can remember what that was like!

“But they will keep doing stuff with digital as well and I think that they will be able to reach the four corners of the planet while doing the day-to-day job that we have come to expect and love them doing as well.”

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