Prince William’s COVID-19 diagnosis could have resulted in concerns about the line of succession, according to royal experts. RICHARD POHLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images, Chris Jackson/Getty Images, Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images
Members of the British press have accused Kensington Palace of lying about Prince William’s positive COVID-19 test result in April, as The Sun reported earlier this week.
Robert Jobson, royal editor at the Evening Standard, told Insider that he was “firmly guided that it wasn’t true” when he approached the palace at the time.
Former royal butler Grant Harrold believes the prince could have been trying to prevent public speculation over who would be next in line to the throne in the event that he and Charles died.
In the event that William’s son Prince George succeeds the throne before he turns 18, Prince Harry could temporarily take his place.
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The Duke of Cambridge kept his COVID-19 diagnosis a secret for months, according to a report from The Sun’s Clemmie Moodie and Matt Wilkinson earlier this week.
According to the newspaper, Prince William tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in April, shortly after his father Prince Charles contracted the virus, but didn’t announce it to avoid alarming the nation.
Kensington Palace declined to provide comment on the record when contacted by Insider about The Sun’s report.
In the hypothetical event that both William and Charles died after contracting the virus, Prince George would have become first in line to the British throne. Since the 7-year-old is not old enough to legally become monarch, Harry could temporarily take George’s place if the minor succeeds the throne before turning 18 under the Regency Act 1937.
This is a scenario that William’s representatives at Kensington Palace likely would have wanted to prevent the public from speculating on when he was diagnosed.
However, some members of the press have said that the palace lied to them when they asked about the duke’s diagnosis back in April.
Robert Jobson, royal editor at British newspaper the Evening Standard, told Insider that the Standard and several other newspapers approached the palace for confirmation about William’s diagnosis at the time.
“It was a cover up. We were firmly guided that it wasn’t true,” Jobson told Insider.
“It’s disappointing, no matter the reasons behind it,” Jobson added. “A public figure who is second in line to the throne and who is publicly funded mislead the public, when he should have followed the precedent set by Prince Charles.”
The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge are first and second in line to the throne respectively. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/Twitter
The two future kings handled their respective diagnoses differently, with the Prince of Wales announcing publicly on March 25 that he had tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing “mild symptoms.” The prince’s representatives at Clarence House kept the public informed through the various stages of his diagnosis, self-isolation period, and recovery.
Meanwhile, William continued with his work engagements over Zoom, only to take a seven-day break from April 9 until April 16, The Sun reports.
Prince Charles’ former butler believes William could have kept his diagnosis quiet to protect Harry from public scrutiny
The Sun’s report said that the duke didn’t want to cause alarm by announcing his positive test result after the heir to the throne and the British prime minister had already suffered from the virus.
“There were important things going on and I didn’t want to worry anyone,” William told one person during a royal engagement, the publication reported.
“After news of Boris [Johnson] and Charles’ illnesses broke — and Boris had been rushed to hospital — William was concerned that informing the country about his own plight would send everyone into panic mode,” The Sun added.
Grant Harrold, a royal etiquette expert and former butler to Prince Charles, believes William could have made the decision to prevent panic over the line of succession.
“On one hand, it does seem strange that something that was private has now been shared,” Harrold told Insider. “If it’s private — and I understand health is a private matter for the royal family — then why have they left it for so long just to tell people now? Why didn’t they just announce it at the time?”
“Unless they thought it would just cause complete panic, to tell the public that the heir and the spare had been struck down with COVID,” he added.
Harrold believes making the news public would have resulted in speculation over who would be next in line to the throne in the hypothetical scenario that William and Charles both died after contracting COVID-19.
Prince Harry and Prince William watching England vs. Wales at the Rugby World Cup in 2015. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
“It would change the face of the monarchy, because it wouldn’t go to Prince George, he’s too young. Technically… [it would be] Prince Harry,” Harrold said.
In the event that Prince George succeeds to the throne before he turns 18, Harry could temporarily take his place as a Regent under the Regency Act 1937, according to Royal Central.
A Regent is someone in the line of succession who would undertake duties on behalf of the monarch if they are under the age of 18 and therefore too young to legally be crowned.
“If the Sovereign is, at His Accession, under the age of 18 years, then, until He attains that age, the royal functions shall be performed in the name and on behalf of the Sovereign by a Regent,” the act states.
George is third in line to the throne after his father, while Harry is sixth in line after George, Princess Charlotte (fourth in line) and Prince Louis (fifth in line).
If Harry was unable to take on the role, Prince Andrew is the next person over the age of 18 in line to the throne.
Both Harry and Andrew are currently listed after Charles and William as Counsellors of State, the role given to royals who could be appointed to take over the Queen’s duties in the event of her absence.
Since Harry and Andrew stepped back from their working roles within the royal family in 2019 and 2020 respectively, news of one of them potentially stepping back into a senior position in the near future could have caused mayhem among the press and the UK public.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams believes that in this unlikely scenario the Regency Act would have been amended with a new regent appointed.
“In this hypothetical situation where the chances are so remote there would I am certain be a Regency until George came of age,” Fitzwilliams told Insider.
Some members of the British press are wondering whether they can trust Prince William as a future king
Allegations that William’s representatives at Kensington Palace lied regarding the prince’s diagnosis have sowed concern among the press.
“For a public relations organization to have lied like that, what can the press trust?” Jobson told Insider.
The royal editor has gone public with his concern, writing on Twitter: “If the palace is prepared to lie about an issue as serious as Prince William, second in line to the throne, contracting COVID-19 what else have they lied about when questioned by the press and why should the media believe any denials going forward? This raises serious issues.”
Richard Palmer, a royal correspondent for the Daily Express, shared a similar opinion on Twitter.
“If the future king contracts a potentially fatal virus that the entire world is worried about during a lockdown and he and those around him cover it up, that raises serious questions about whether we can trust anything he or his advisers say,” Palmer wrote.
“If Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, or Joe Biden had covered up a positive test for COVID-19, many people would not be praising them for ‘not wanting to worry people,'” he added.
However, Fitzwilliams told Insider the duke would have been criticized regardless of whether he went public with the news or not.
“When Charles announced he was suffering from it, there was a row over the fact that he was given priority for testing [even] though there is not a country in the world where he, as heir to the throne or his equivalent, would not have been given this,” Fitzwilliams said.
Read the original article on Insider