Prince Charles “has a bad cough” but is “generally feeling OK” as he battles the coronavirus, a source with knowledge of his condition has told The Daily Beast.
The source added that Charles’ family is “not very worried” about the prospect that he may become seriously ill following the revelation Wednesday that the heir to the throne has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
While the prince’s press officers declined to comment further on his health, in a previous statement they said: “He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.”
However, palace sources did confirm to The Daily Beast that Charles had been displaying “key symptoms” of COVID-19 and that this is what had “given the hint” that he should be tested. The key symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
The royal family has followed pandemic protocol dating back to the time of the 1665 Great Plague and split themselves up to try and ensure not all members of the direct line of succession get infected with the sometimes fatal disease.
Charles and Camilla are in Scotland, Kate and William are in Norfolk, and Harry and Meghan are in Canada.
Ironically, the royals in the least isolated location are the most vulnerable, namely the Queen, 93, and her husband Prince Philip, 98, who are sheltering at Windsor Castle, which is in the center of the busy town of the same name, not far from London.
However Charles’ diagnosis is likely to focus courtiers’ minds on the absolute imperative of keeping other senior royals safe from any possible sources of infection.
There will of course be many who will now question the wisdom of having permitted the Queen to continue carrying out public engagements until last week.
She was still holding meetings and audiences with multiple people present as late as March 18.
Assuming a 14-day incubation period, courtiers will, by tomorrow, at least be quietly confident that HM did not contract the virus during an investiture attended by dozens of members of the public, and Prince Charles, at Buckingham Palace on March 12. The Queen wore gloves on that occasion, and Charles has avoided bodily contact by greeting people with steepled fingers in recent weeks instead of shaking hands.
Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles’ wife, is with him but is not infected with the virus, the palace said.
Charles, 71, and Camilla, 72, are of an age which makes them a member of the most at-risk groups.
Charles’ son Prince Harry was said last week to feel “helpless” and to have been worried about the prospect of his aging father and grandparents catching the disease.
Penny Junor, Charles’ biographer, who has been close to the family for many years, earlier told The Daily Beast: “He’s only recently gone up to Aberdeen, and until he was forcibly stopped he continued to be out and about, meeting people and doing things. It just shows nobody is immune; other world leaders have got it so why not the heir to the throne?”
Junor said there were reasons to be optimistic that Charles would cope well with the infection, saying: “He is a strong, fit man. He is very diet conscious, he exercises, he is slim, he doesn’t have asthma, and has never smoked. He doesn’t really have any health issues apart from a bad back from several polo falls.”
She added: “Of course, he will be having top-notch medical care, but still, it is very scary.”