Charles speaks about virus diagnosis for first time

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent

The Prince of Wales has spoken of the “strange, frustrating and often distressing” experience of being without friends and family in his first comments since his coronavirus self-isolation ended.

Charles also delivered a message of hope to the nation in the midst of the health crisis, saying “end it will” and praising the “remarkable NHS” as its staff “battle heroically to save lives”.

The heir to the throne made his first appearance since coming out of self-isolation following his Covid-19 diagnosis to record a video message in support of the charity Age UK, which he represents as patron.

In the message, posted on royal websites and social media, Charles spoke about his own virus diagnosis.

He said: “Having recently gone through the process of contracting this coronavirus – luckily with relatively mild symptoms – I now find myself on the other side of the illness but still in no less a state of social distance and general isolation.

“As we are all learning, this is a strange, frustrating and often distressing experience when the presence of family and friends is no longer possible and the normal structures of life are suddenly removed.

“At such an unprecedented and anxious time in all our lives, my wife and I are thinking particularly of all those who have lost their loved ones in such very difficult and abnormal circumstances, and of those having to endure sickness, isolation and loneliness.”

On Monday, Clarence House announced the 71-year-old prince, who developed mild symptoms of Covid-19 over the weekend of March 21/22, had completed his period of isolation at his Scottish home of Birkhall in Aberdeenshire.

The Duchess of Cornwall, 72, tested negative for the virus and remains in self-isolation until the end of the week, observing the advice to separate for 14 days.

In his video message, Charles said: “As a nation, we are faced by a profoundly challenging situation, which we are only too aware threatens the livelihoods, businesses and welfare of millions of our fellow citizens.

“None of us can say when this will end but end it will. Until it does, let us all try and live with hope and, with faith in ourselves and each other, look forward to better times to come.”

In the footage recorded on Tuesday morning by staff at Birkhall, Charles said: “And at a time when doctors, nurses and all the vital ancillary staff that form the backbone of our remarkable NHS are increasingly under such enormous strain and risk, as they battle heroically to save lives in intensive care centres and to contain, as much as possible, the spread of this virus, our thoughts and prayers are very much with those marvellous people whose extraordinary skills and utter, selfless devotion to duty and the care of their patients make us so very proud.”

The heir to the throne delivered his message from his desk, where he carried on working during his self-isolation, conducting meetings by phone with organisations and charities he supports.

Charles highlighted individuals in society worthy of praise from “toiling” shop workers keeping supermarket shelves stocked, who he described as a “further emergency service”, to volunteers who have signed up to help the NHS.

The prince said: “However, we also know that in every community up and down this land – where people of all ages are being affected by this virus – there are truly wonderful neighbours, individuals and groups of volunteers who are providing ceaseless care and attention to those most at risk and that all this network of selfless assistance is, in itself, helping to provide vital support and reassurance to the hard-pressed professional services.”