Britain's Prince Charles Tests Positive For The Coronavirus

Mar 25, 2020
Originally published on March 25, 2020 8:40 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news now - Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, tested positive for coronavirus; the prince's royal office says so. NPR's Frank Langfitt is on the line from London. Hi there, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: What's the prince's office saying?

LANGFITT: Well, they're saying he's displaying mild symptoms but, quote, "remains in good health." His wife, the duchess of Cornwall - she's 72 - has also been tested, but she's not infected. He's 71, I believe.

The couple are up in Balmoral Castle. That's the royal family's holiday home in Scotland, where the prince is apparently continuing to work. Some of the staff up there have been self-isolating. And his office says it's not really clear how - they can't really tell how he got the virus because he's been involved in a lot of public engagements in recent weeks; so any number of ways he could have contracted it.

INSKEEP: It's natural to worry about him because of the virus, because he's over 70, but people might naturally wonder, also, about the prince's mother, Queen Elizabeth, who's 93.

LANGFITT: Yeah, I think that that would be on pretty much everybody's mind right now in the United Kingdom. I haven't seen any announcement about whether she's been tested. She last saw the prince on March 12, so a couple weeks back or so.

INSKEEP: OK.

LANGFITT: The queen is incredibly robust, and Buckingham Palace is saying she's in good health, but nothing more than that, frankly, Steve. She has retreated up to Windsor Castle. That's her weekend home, where she really spends most of her time, I think, these days. Her husband, Prince Philip, is 98. No word on him. He's been quite frail for a number of years, but he also retired from public duties a couple of years back. So hopefully, he would not have had the kind of exposure certainly that, say, Prince Charles would have had to the public.

INSKEEP: We see the queen out in public. We see Prince Charles out in public. Had they cut back on their public appearances in recent weeks?

LANGFITT: Well, it doesn't look like the prince really had. And I'll be honest with you, I've not been following it that closely. Coronavirus has sort of really grabbed people. And of course...

INSKEEP: You bet.

LANGFITT: ...With Boris Johnson, he took - in terms of people's attention. And of course, Boris Johnson was slow to tell people to distance themselves and to push - you know, to kind of pull back here, for which he's been criticized. So I think there will be concerns that, particularly, the prince was out and about quite a bit.

INSKEEP: Now, you mentioned Boris Johnson, the prime minister. He did finally make an announcement telling people to stay home and that the police would enforce that and break up gatherings of more than two people. So what is the situation now in London, where you are?

LANGFITT: Well, London, there's a lot of concern. There are three times more cases in London than any other region, and nearly half of the deaths have been here. The ExCeL convention center down in the London Docklands, that's going to be turned into a 4,000-bed field hospital. The real concern is that London's not going to have the health care capacity when we come close to a peak here with the coronavirus.

INSKEEP: Even though London has got to be the center of hospitals in the U.K. It's got to be as strong there as anywhere.

LANGFITT: It is, but, Steve, there are already lots of complaints from health service people here that they don't have the protection measures that - and then sort of the equipment that they need.

INSKEEP: Similar story in the United States. Frank, thanks so much.

LANGFITT: Happy to do it, Steve.

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