Revealing Prince William’s coronavirus illness would have been a public service

The news that Britain’s Prince William battled covid-19 in April but didn’t publicly disclose his illness is a blow to more than royal credibility. By remaining silent when England was in a pandemic lockdown, William passed up an opportunity to play a positive role during a public health crisis — possibly to his future subjects’ detriment.

a man wearing a suit and hat standing next to a woman: Britain's Prince William looks on as Queen Elizabeth II unveils a plaque to officially open the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, England, on Oct. 15. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

© Ben Stansall/AP
Britain’s Prince William looks on as Queen Elizabeth II unveils a plaque to officially open the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, England, on Oct. 15. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

At one point while he was sick, the prince “struggled to breathe,“ according to the Sun, the British tabloid that broke the story. William, second in line to the throne, was stricken shortly after his father, Prince Charles, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson contracted the virus in late March. William, now 38, isolated at his country home, in Norfolk, England, and was treated by palace doctors.

William’s illness became public after he reportedly told an observer about it at a recent event, saying, “There were important things going on, and I didn’t want to worry anyone.“

There is a logic to some arguments against disclosure: Kensington Palace wanted to avoid further public anxiety when the immediate heir to the throne and prime minister were also known to be sick. The royal family might not have wanted to steal thunder from the queen’s rare broadcast in early April thanking front-line workers and reassuring Britons in lockdown that “better days will return.“ And many royal medical procedures and illnesses have been made public only after having been addressed.

It makes no sense, however, to have kept William’s illness a secret in the spring, when disclosing it might have profoundly affected people’s understanding of the pandemic threat.

Coronavirus infections have risen sharply in Britain, where the Office for National Statistics estimated last week that 1 in 100 people in England have covid-19, up from 1 in 200 about a month ago. In July, the share was 1 in 2,300.

With the number of covid cases on course to overtake the National Health Service’s capacity, the prime minister recently announced a four-week lockdown — to begin Thursday — and the closure of nonessential businesses. Criticism of this second lockdown (the government is “giving in to the scientific advisers,” opined a former leader of Johnson’s own Conservative Party) is itself an argument for telling the public about William’s experience.

The United Kingdom has recorded more than 1 million covid cases and more than 46,000 deaths. In April, when Johnson was moved to intensive care, Britain had recorded some 48,000 confirmed cases and about 4,900 deaths.

Knowing that the virus had sickened William, an athletic former helicopter pilot with three young children, might have influenced people’s understanding of the pandemic threat. The share of Britons wearing face masks in public didn’t climb above 50 percent until the first week of July, according to U.K. government data. It was

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Prince William reportedly kept his coronavirus diagnosis a secret for this reason, royal expert claims

EXCLUSIVE: There’s a reason why Prince William may have kept his coronavirus diagnosis a secret from the world.

On Monday, The Sun reported the 38-year-old royal “struggled to breathe” while he battled the novel virus back in April during the early days of the global pandemic. The U.K.-based outlet reported the Duke of Cambridge didn’t speak out about the illness to avoid alarming the public.

“Here in Britain, there is controversy over the fact that we now discovered that he had COVID-19 back at the beginning of the first spike and he concealed it,” royal author Robert Lacey told Fox News. “At the time, the prime minister had coronavirus, his father had coronavirus.”

Lacey, who serves as a historical consultant to the hit Netflix series “The Crown,” recently released a new book titled “Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult,” which examines the relationship and alleged feud between Princess Diana’s two sons.


Britain's Prince William was reportedly diagnosed with coronavirus in April.

Britain’s Prince William was reportedly diagnosed with coronavirus in April.
(Photo by Tim Rooke/Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty)

Lacey, who has been writing about the British royal family for 40 years and previously worked at the royal archives, spoke to numerous palace insiders for his latest release.

“[William] decided the world didn’t need him to be the third high-profiled coronavirus victim,” Lacey explained. “He followed all the rules. He did the quarantine, the self-isolating. He did Zoom, even while he was ill, and then got back to work.”

William reportedly tested positive only days after his father, Prince Charles, also tested positive for COVID-19 in late March.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also contracted the virus around the same time. It is currently unclear if any other royals contracted the virus. It is believed William was treated by palace doctors and isolated in his Norfolk family home, Anmer Hall.


Prince William's father Prince Charles (pictured) was diagnosed with coronavirus in late March.

Prince William’s father Prince Charles (pictured) was diagnosed with coronavirus in late March.

A source told the outlet that the Duke of Cambridge, who is second in line to the throne, “was hit pretty hard by the virus.”

“At one stage he was struggling to breathe, so obviously everyone around him was pretty panicked,” they added. “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.”

After April 9, the royal took a weeklong break from phone calls and engagements before virtually opening the Nightingale Hospital Birmingham on April 16.

“People have said this is not right for an heir to the throne to keep this sort of thing a secret,” said Lacey. “He should be open. He’s hiding things from us. I, myself, in this case, do not agree with that criticism. It’s not unconstitutional to choose to be ill in private. He doesn’t have to share his pains and tribulations

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Prince William ‘Tested Positive for COVID-19 in April’

The Duke of Cambridge contracted COVID-19 earlier this year but did not reveal the diagnosis to avoid alarming the nation, it was reported.

It is understood that Prince William tested positive in April, shortly after his father, the Prince of Wales.

According to The Sun , which first reported the story, Prince William was treated by palace doctors, and self-isolated at the family home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk.

‘Struggling to Breathe’

The newspaper quoted a source who said: “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.”

In late March, Prince Charles tested positive for COVID-19 and self-isolated for 7 days at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who tested negative.

The 71-year-old heir to the throne was said to have experienced mild symptoms.

On 27 March, Boris Johnson revealed he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The Prime Minister was admitted to hospital on 5 April. He was subsequently moved to intensive care and later thanked healthcare workers for saving his life.

The UK experienced its worst day for deaths from COVID-19 just days later, on 8 April, when a record 1445 people died with the disease in a 24-hour period.

News reports have not identified which date in April Prince William tested positive for COVID-19.

The Prince has not publicly confirmed that he had the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, according to The Sun, he reportedly commented privately at an engagement, “There were important things going on and I didn’t want to worry anyone.”

Kensington Palace declined to comment on Sunday over the media reports but did not deny the claims, Sky News reported.

Prince Carried Out Public Engagements

Despite his illness, Prince William carried out a series of telephone and video engagements in April.

These included:

  • 1 April: Telephone calls with staff at Queen’s Hospital, Burton-on-Trent, and staff at University Hospital Monklands in Airdrie

  • 16 April: Opening the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham via video link

  • 22 April: A roundtable meeting to discuss emergency responder mental health and wellbeing via video link

  • 27 April: A telephone call with Victoria Hornby, chief executive officer of Mental Health Innovations

Lockdown Measures

The reports of Prince William’s diagnosis emerged days before England is due to enter a second national lockdown, with 4 weeks of restrictive measures designed to stem a growing number of cases of COVID-19.

Mr Johnson announced at a Downing Street news conference on Saturday that pubs, restaurants, gyms, non-essential shops, and places of worship must close.

He said nobody wanted to impose such measures, but no Prime Minister could ignore the expert evidence of a “national problem”, with deaths and hospital admissions continuing to double.

The Prime Minister is due to make a statement to the Commons on Monday afternoon.

MPs are due to vote on the measures on Wednesday.


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Prince William Follows in Princess Diana’s Footsteps by Laying Foundation Stone for Cancer Hospital

WPA-Rota/Press Association Images Prince William

Prince William followed in the footsteps of his late mother Princess Diana on Wednesday by laying a foundation stone at a cancer hospital.

The royal took part in the ceremony at the Royal Marsden in Sutton, Surrey, to start the building the Oak Cancer Centre, a state-of-the-art research and treatment facility. It comes 30 years after his mother Diana, who died in 1997, carried out a similar task by laying the ceremonial foundation stone commemorating the Chelsea Wing at The Royal Marsden in central London.

The hospital’s Oak Cancer Centre will place over 400 researchers under the same roof as patients, helping to accelerate the development of new treatments for cancer.

In a speech, William, 38, said, “I am personally delighted to be with you today to lay the foundation stone of the Oak Centre, 30 years after my mother did the very same thing at The Royal Marsden in Chelsea, commemorating the building of the Chelsea Wing.”

WPA-Rota/Press Association Images Prince William

WPA-Rota/Press Association Images Prince William

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He went on to “acknowledge the unimaginable challenges that all those at the Marsden have faced this year,” during the coronavirus pandemic. “The knock-on effects of coronavirus have been felt widely, but the impact on cancer treatment for patients up and down the country has been one of the most acute and challenging.”

During his visit, he met a small group of patients to hear how clinical trials at The Royal Marsden have transformed their lives and to talk about their experiences of receiving treatment during the pandemic.

Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images Princess Diana at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea, London

“Earlier this morning I was privileged to meet patients who all spoke about the exceptional care they received, and how they felt safe in very difficult and often frightening times,” he added.

“As well as providing outstanding care, The Royal Marsden continues to be at the cutting edge of cancer research globally. As we heard from Alex, developments in cancer research made here have changed the face of cancer treatment across the world, giving thousands of people a future.”

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William said he was “delighted” to officially break ground on a new building which “will represent a new generation of research-led patient treatment and care. It will bring together some of the world’s best minds to develop new treatments to save and improve the lives of cancer patients throughout the U.K. and around the world.”

WPA-Rota/Press Association Images

The prince launched the private fundraising phase of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity’s appeal in November 2015. It has brought in around $80 million. He has now kicked off the launch of the public fundraising which hopes to bring in the last $10 million

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