Week Twenty-Four: Prince William's Shock Covid Diagnosis, Leigh Bramwell Helps You to Prioritise the Jobs in Your Garden for Christmas, Plus, How Well Do You Know Your Favourite Celebrities?

The Palace's decision to not release the news that Prince William battled Covid-19 earlier this year has split public opinion...

Royal Watch: Prince William’s Battle with Covid-19

It was a time when things felt they were beginning to snowball.

On March 25, the whole of New Zealand entered Level 4 Lockdown, after a swift escalation through the Level 2 and 3. That same week, it was announced that the future heir to the throne, Prince Charles, had contracted Covid-19. It was speculated that he caught it at an event where he sat opposite Prince Albert of Monaco, who also tested positive for the virus, along with several others. The virus seemed to be spreading at an alarming rate.

While Charles was said to be experiencing only mild symptoms and was in relatively good health, days later on March 27, Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced he too had tested positive. Initially, his symptoms were also described as mild, but by April 6 his condition had worsened, leading to him being hospitalised and spending two nail-biting nights in intensive care.

It was a dark time, filled with much fear, uncertainty and anxiety. And now we have learned that the situation was actually bleaker than we even realised.

(Charles & William photographed by the Duchess of Cambridge for Father’s Day)

This week, palace insiders revealed that shortly after Prince Charles and Boris Johnson came down with Covid-19, Prince William also tested positive for the virus.

It obviously presented itself as quite the quandary for the royal family. Prince William appeared to be doing well, experiencing only mild symptoms and was able to isolate at home. It’s believed that the children and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge all tested negative for the virus.

What would be made of his diagnosis while the PM was gravely ill with the virus, the Queen, at 94, in isolation and her 70-year-old heir now holed up with Covid-19. Should anything – god forbid – happen to Charles and William, the next in line to the throne would be Prince George, but, aged just six years old in March/April, he would be much too young to take the throne. An heir must be at least 18 to rule, so in the meantime a Regency Council would be appointed. But by then, Prince Harry – the most senior adult royal, besides Kate – had already long packed his bags and left the royal family for a new life in the States with his wife and young son.

The palace was presented with a choice: Should they stay quiet about the diagnosis, or announce it to the public?

While Kensington Palace has refused to comment on the story, an insider has spoken to Vanity Fair, confirming the prince’s diagnosis, saying the Queen was understandably very concerned that both her son and grandson were battling the virus.

“The priority was keeping HMQ shielded and safe, which was thankfully what happened,” the insider told Vanity Fair. “But of course the Queen was worried for Charles and William and relieved that they suffered only minor symptoms. At a time like this, the royal family is very important in providing stability and support to a worried nation.”

And so, it seems, the decision was made to keep Prince William’s diagnosis under wraps, less his situation deteriorate.

The Cambridges continued to go about their work from home, dialling into video conferences. William took a break for seven days from April 9 until April 16 – when he appeared on a video call to celebrate the opening of a new hospital.

But the royal family’s decision to keep Prince William’s diagnosis a secret has been met with much criticism in the past few days. While some admire the family for not causing further panic at a time when Britons – and indeed the world – were on tenterhooks, others are outraged. In April there was still a sense that the virus was something that affected the older generations, and medical professionals were having a tough time getting the message through to younger people that the virus needing to be taken seriously. Kate Williams, a leading historian and professor at the University of Reading said, Prince William could have used his experience to educate others – as many well-known figures have this year. "I presume the reason that so many public figures were so transparent is because they knew it was helpful for the public know given the scale of the crisis,” she says. “My personal feeling is it would have been helpful if we'd known a bit more about Prince William's illness."

Regardless, we’re thrilled that Prince William has bounced back from his illness – as has his father. And now, we wait with interest to see if he discusses his experiences with the virus in public.

What do you think of the Royal Family’s decision to keep Prince William’s diagnosis a secret? Do you think it was wise?

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In The Garden: Leigh Bramwell’s Best Tips For Getting Ready for Christmas!

Leigh Bramwell is a gardening expert - she’s spent “forever” as a journalist (at ODTNZ Herald, her own glossy garden design mag Alfresco and as the Gardening Editor at New Zealand Woman’s Weekly), in public relations, TV, book author… she’s done it all! Who better to get some advice from!?

Q: What are the priorities for cleaning up before Christmas guests arrive?

A: If you're planning to entertain outdoors over the silly season, your garden spaces may need refreshing. Nobody wants to sit in a weedy courtyard looking at a slimy water feature while they enjoy a glass of Christmas bubbles.

Make sure your outdoor tables are level. Nobody likes a table that lurches when you lean on it and spills your drink in your lap. It’s likely an uneven surface that’s the problem, which you can solve either by making the surface level (big job) ,sticking bits of rubber on the table legs to even it up (small job), or placing pieces of timber under the table legs (even smaller job).

If you have cushions for your outdoor chairs, remove the covers and divest them of rust marks, mould and bird poo. Chances are your umbrella could also do with a clean - there are products you can spray on and leave which will clean the umbrella without poisoning the cat.

Hear more from Leigh by clicking here

Celebrity Quiz: What’s in a name?

Celebrities often change their names when they head to Hollywood… Can you match the birth names with the names we now know the celebrity as? Mix and match to complete the list:

1.     Archibald Alec Leach                
2.     Susan Alexandra Weaver          
3.     Mary Louise
4.     Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner
5.     Reginald Kenneth Dwight
6.     Eileen Regina Edwards
7.     Neta-Lee Hershlag
8.     Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra
9.     Frances Ethel Gumm
10.  Norma Jeane Morenson

A.     Meryl Streep
B.     Marilyn Monroe
C.     Natalie Portman
D.    Cary Grant
E.     Meg Ryan
F.     Judy Garland
G.    Sting
H.    Shania Twain
I.      Elton John
J. Sigourney Weaver

Thanks for reading! We’ll have the answers to the Quiz, and much more with you later in the week. Until then, take care and enjoy your week!

Talk soon!
Alice, Kelly & Nici x

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