How royals around the world are protecting themselves against coronavirus

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
The Cambridges have been working from home, while some European royals are back on engagements now. (Getty Images)

Royal Family members around the world have been volunteering throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but the levels of personal protection have varied.

In the UK, devolved governments have been split on the level of protection needed for citizens as they go about daily life. It’s now recommended in England to wear masks when in enclosed public spaces.

Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, has been pictured in a mask and gloves on some of her charity visits throughout the UK lockdown.

When she joined cooks at Rhubarb to make meals for NHS workers, she was pictured wearing a mask and gloves, as she tied her hair back. She also wore both a mask and gloves when she visited a homeless shelter in early April.

But the countess didn’t wear a mask on a trip to a hospital in May, when she delivered bags of food to frontline nurses and midwives.

The countess has been volunteering in the community through the pandemic. (Ashford and St Peter's NHS Trust)

She kept to social distancing rules and did wear gloves.

Her niece, Princess Eugenie, faced some criticism on Instagram after sharing pictures of her and her husband Jack Brooksbank volunteering with the Salvation Army.

While the pair did have gloves on, they did not wear masks.

Buckingham Palace has been contacted for comment.

Read more: Who are Prince Edward and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex?

Most members of the British Royal Family have been in lockdown, so have not been seen with face masks on.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were pictured wearing face coverings in Los Angeles when they made food deliveries to vulnerable people who were shielding.

Prince William and Kate shared pictures of their daughter Charlotte helping to pack food parcels for older people near their home in Sandringham.

The five-year-old did not have a face covering on at the time, and no pictures were released of the other family members. The pictures were taken before the government advised coverings to be worn in crowded areas.

Charlotte helped make food deliveries before the guidelines from the government changed. (Kensington Palace)

Read more: Princess Charlotte delivers handmade pasta to pensioners in new birthday photographs

In Belgium, Royal Family members have been seen wearing masks and gloves regularly as they volunteer.

Princess Eleonore helped distribute food parcels in a homeless shelter in Brussels last week, along with her mother Queen Matilde.

On 19 May, Queen Matilde and King Philippe visited the Royal Museum of Fine Arts as it reopened following a two month closure.

The royals wore face masks for most of their visit, but were pictured with them off for a posed photo by one of the paintings.

But they have confirmed that most of their work is still going on virtually or over the phone.

They told followers on Twitter that the Prime Minister’s weekly meeting was now being held over the phone, and shared pictures of the younger royals making calls to vulnerable people in Belgium.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium wearing face masks during a visit to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. (Getty Images)
They took their masks off for one photo. (Getty Images)

Eleonore went back to school on 15 May, with a video shared on the royals’ Twitter page showing her dropped off by her father.

While her father was wearing a mask, she did not have one on.

The video was shared with a message which read “thank you to school administrators, teachers and educators for the preparations and adaptations aimed at allowing a partial and gradual return of students”.

Teachers and staff all looked to be following social distancing rules.

In Belgium, schools began to reopen in mid-May but all had to follow social distancing, and class sizes are smaller.

It is compulsory there for anyone over the age of 12 to wear a mask on public transport, in schools and in workplaces.

The government has given every citizen at least one cloth face covering.

Princess Eleonore (C) wears a mask during a royal visit to a homeless shelter in Brussels. (Getty Images)
Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Princess Eleonore wear masks as they gave out food packages. (Getty Images)

Read more: Queen's staff face pay freezes as royals prepare for income to fall during coronavirus pandemic

In the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander showed his support for businesses in a post-lockdown world, as he visited a shopping centre in Stein.

He was pictured visiting a barber, a nail salon, an opticians and a physiotherapist as Holland began to reopen.

Businesses started to reopen in Holland from 11 May. The royal house said the King spoke to the business owners about the period that the company was closed, the financial consequences, uncertainties about the future and how to deal with the new protocols since the restart.

His wife, Queen Maxima, has also been returning to work. On 19 May, she made a working visit to the distribution centre of the Delft Food Bank Foundation.

The following day she went to the Department of Medical Microbiology of the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) to speak to staff about their work on a vaccine for COVID-19.

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands visited a barber, nail stylist, optician and physiotherapist. (Getty Images)
Businesses in Holland went back to work on 11 May. (Getty Images)

Royals in the Netherlands are practicing social distancing as they carry out their visits, and according to the website, are still doing much of their work over the phone.

The palace has said it is taking measures with each organisation before working visits take place.

Face masks are also compulsory in the Netherlands on public transport, but they aren’t necessary in stations, as long as social distancing is adhered to.

In Spain, King Felipe and Queen Letizia are also beginning to work in public again after the lockdown.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia are back on public engagements in Spain. (Spanish royal house)

Read more: How world's royal families are affected by coronavirus

The royals were both tested for coronavirus early on in the outbreak because a cabinet minister they worked with contracted the disease.

However neither of them picked it up.

On Thursday the royal couple wore face masks as they visited a fruit and vegetable market in Madrid. The king had previously held a video call with some of the representatives from the market, at the beginning of the COVID-19 response.

Their royal Twitter account shows most of their work is being conducted via video call.

King Felipe did make a speech at a conference on 18 May, and attendees were shown sitting several sets apart to maintain social distancing.

In Spain, use of masks in public is recommended but not compulsory. Those returning to work have to follow social distancing and have the right protective equipment.

Millions of masks have been handed out to Spaniards at transport hubs.

Read more: Duchess of Cambridge working more during coronavirus pandemic as Royal Family adjusts to lockdown

The Danish royal family confirmed that all four of their children are back in school after being educated at home during the lockdown.

Prince Christian and Princess Isabella, the second and third in line to the throne in Denmark, returned to school on 18 May, but it was a few more days before their older siblings went back too.

Posting on Instagram, Crown Princess Mary wrote: “We are happy that all four children are back in school. I think they have been good at dealing with what has been a very different everyday life. 

“But they are happy to return to all that they have missed: the teaching, their peers, the teachers, the neighbourhoods - in short, a school life that provides the structure of everyday life that children have found they appreciate.”

The photo she shared showed the backs of the children’s heads so it’s not clear if they’ll be wearing face masks in the classroom.

The four children were pulled out of boarding school in Switzerland in March as countries began to lockdown their borders. The royal family said the children would continue their education in Denmark once schools were open again.