We’re just learning that Prince William had been diagnosed with COVID back in the spring, around the time when his father, Prince Charles, had tested positive for coronavirus. Certainly, these members of the British royalty aren’t the only international luminaries to have crossed paths with COVID; Britain’s Boris Johnson, as well as President Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, all were among other well-known cases (via The New York Times).
So why did Prince William stay mum on his diagnosis for so long? In an interview with The List, Kinsey Schofield, founder of ToDiForDaily.com, a website about the British royal family, explained that the younger prince had several reasons for not wanting his COVID status in the limelight. “As second in line for succession, Prince William’s health and safety is a priority to the monarchy,” Schofield explained. “In this case, it’s likely Prince William wanted to avoid being seen as ill or weak, and he wanted to control the narrative.” Schofield added that it’s very characteristic of the prince to withhold personal news from the ever-present media. “Prince William has always attempted to remain in control when it comes to the media, even refusing to tell them his dog’s name!” she said. “So, I was not surprised that he kept his diagnosis a secret until he was well in the clear.”
Prince William wanted to avoid media attention
According to Schofield, swarms of paparazzi are a very real concern for members of the royal family. “Any mention of him sick, and photographers might descend on his private home with their magnified lenses,” she explained, “and that is the last thing he wants.” Schofield noted that seeing how his father’s case was discussed in the tabloids likely scared away Prince William from disclosing his status. “It did not help that only weeks before, in March, Prince Charles announced he had the virus,” she pointed out. “I believe Prince William wanted to avoid stories like, who he had recently been in contact with, could he have exposed the Queen, inquiries about his wife and children, etc.”
In fact, Prince William’s COVID status would have breathed new life into the news about Prince Charles dealing with the disease, which had just started to die down in the news. “If he would have disclosed his diagnosis at the time, it would have become a much bigger story,” Schofield explained.
Prince William wanted the U.K. to focus on staying in lockdown
News about Prince William wrangling with COVID likely would have worried Brits, and also taken their focus off the importance of staying in lockdown to avoid exacerbating the spread of coronavirus — this is yet another reason why the prince did not want media attention on his own illness, Schofield explained. “William was trying to put on a brave face and continue to push through Zoom royal engagements — often related to how people were managing during lockdown — because he knew he had an audience and he wanted to comfort them as much as he could vs. worry them,” she said.
How Prince William leads in the face of a global pandemic is critical to his reputation, Schofield added. “COVID is a historic event that will be remembered throughout history, and Prince William is hyper aware that decisions he makes in times of crisis are documented,” she said. “He wants to manage his brand and reputation in every aspect, so that one day, he is a beloved and respected King.”
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