The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, have been accused of breaking COVID-19 protocol amid concerns over a rapidly spreading new coronavirus strain in Britain.
According to reports, William and Kate had gone to visit Prince Edward and his family at Sandringham with their whole family. That includes their three children - Prince George (7), Princess Charlotte (5) and Prince Louis (2). They had gone to visit the Prince's uncle and his wife Sophie. The latter's children, aged 17 and 13, were also present at the scene.
Reportedly, both families were visiting Luminate, a Christmas-themed woodland walk at Sandringham. Now, according to a report by Express UK, the two families had arrived separately and did not really intend to go together. But in photos that have gone viral of the two families, they can be seen walking and chatting together.
The royals have now been accused of breaking the "Rule of six" which has been imposed by the British government to limit social gatherings and subsequently minimise chances of coronavirus transmission.
The official guidelines say that the Brits can only meet in groups of six if they do not belong to the same Covid-safe bubble or the same household. This number includes children of all ages too. In that case, the two families do seem to be breaking protocol since they were nine in total.
Britain is now following a four-tier system of coronavirus alert after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that London and south-east London will be a part of tier 4. As is evident, tier 4 comprises the strictest coronavirus measures, especially since the new strain of the virus was detected in the region. Most other parts of Britain are in Tier 2. This includes the estate the royal family was visiting.
The new variant is being called VUI-202012/01 - the first "Variant Under Investigation" in the UK in December 2020. Even as scientists hunt for more information about the variant, its impact is already being felt – the mutation has been linked to a recent surge in cases in the UK, and several countries have imposed restrictions on travellers from the UK. According to reports, the new variant of the Sars-Cov-2 could be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the old variant.
This is not the first time the royals have been criticised for failing to abide by Covid protocols. Recently, a royal rail tour of Britain by Prince William and his wife Kate has caused controversy after criticism from politicians in Scotland and Wales because of coronavirus travel restrictions.
The British government in London has refrained from criticising William, who is Queen Elizabeth II's grandson and second in line to the throne, and his wife Kate.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said the trip was "obviously a matter for the palace". The government had "set out clearly" restrictions to try to stop the spread of the virus and was asking the public to abide by it.