Royals switched from face-to-face engagements to video calls during lockdown

The Queen delivered two televised addresses and the Prince of Wales caught and recovered from coronavirus.

The royal family on the Palace balcony in 2019
The royal family on the Palace balcony in 2019

The royal family has adapted to an unprecedented change in royal duties during lockdown.

Public appearances were swapped for online video calls as the Windsors followed the rules and stayed at home.

Garden parties, investitures, state visits and foreign tours were put on hold as popular, traditional annual engagements drawing huge crowds, along with run-of-the-mill meet and greets and walkabouts, were deemed unsafe.

The Queen, who was reunited with the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle with a reduced household dubbed HMS Bubble, delivered two rare televised addresses to the nation just weeks apart.

She reassured the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation: “We will meet again.”

Children’s Hospice Week
Camilla and Kate on a video call to mark Children’s Hospice Week (Clarence House/PA)

In another speech to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, she told how the message at the end of the war in Europe was “never give up, never despair”.

The monarch’s eldest son the Prince of Wales contracted coronavirus, but suffered only mild symptoms.

The Queen
The Queen’s address to the nation on the coronavirus pandemic (Jacob King/PA)

He spent the first week or so of lockdown staying apart from the Duchess of Cornwall at Birkhall in Scotland to prevent his wife catching the disease.

Charles lost his sense of taste and smell and revealed recently that it has yet to fully return.

Princess Beatrice’s wedding was postponed, and Princess Eugenie’s father-in-law George Brooksbank was in intensive care for nine weeks and on a ventilator for five after falling ill with coronavirus.

Eugenie has thanked NHS staff on the front line for risking their lives to save him.

Charles contracted Covid-19 (Ben Birchall/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis clapped for carers at their Norfolk home Anmer Hall.

As public engagements were replaced with video calls, William, Kate, Charles, Camilla and other members of the royal family kept busy with their charity work online.

They sent video messages of support and spoke with intensive care staff, school children and nurses and opened NHS Nightingale hospitals virtually.

The Cambridges turned bingo callers for a care home in Cardiff, while Charles backed a virtual book of remembrance for coronavirus victims and called on people to take part in a national effort to help farmers harvest fruit and vegetables.

Camilla joined a video chat with author David Walliams to promote a writing competition, and recorded a discussion on domestic abuse for the Women of the World (WOW) online festival.

The Queen took part in her first official video conference call as part of her public duties, speaking to carers with the Princess Royal.

Philip, who retired in 2017, released his first major statement since he stepped down from public life, praising key workers keeping essential services running.

Members of the royal family have also been volunteering, particularly the Countess of Wessex.

Sophie joined her husband the Earl of Wessex in packing food parcels at a mosque to mark Eid, but she also sorted PPE shipments, helped in a charity shop and delivered supplies to a hospital.

William secretly volunteered supporting people contacting the Shout 85258 crisis helpline developed by his Royal Foundation, and Charlotte, George and Louis lent a hand as their parents delivered fresh food to shielding pensioners.

Princess Charlotte helped to deliver food packages for isolated pensioners (Duchess of Cambridge/Kensington Palace/PA)

The royals have remained separated from one another during the 100 days of lockdown, scattered around the country at their various homes.

William told of his concern for his elderly grandparents, and Charles spoke of not seeing his father and his grandchildren, and how he was using FaceTime, but was missing giving people a hug.

Kate said: “I’ve yet to see my family as they’re about three hours away in Berkshire, so I haven’t seen them and I miss them.”

The Queen
The Queen during a ceremony at Windsor Castle to mark her official birthday (Joanne Davidson/PA)

There were also royal birthdays.

The Queen turned 94 and also marked her official birthday with a mini Trooping the Colour.

It was held at Windsor and featured a unique socially distanced tribute from the military.

The monarch was also pictured riding one of her fell ponies in Windsor Home Park.

The Queen and Philip
The Queen and Philip mark the duke’s birthday (Steve Parsons/PA)

Philip turned 99 in June and was photographed with the Queen to celebrate the occasion.

Louis had his second birthday, Charlotte is now five, and William’s birthday coincided with Father’s Day.

The second in line to the throne was pictured with his youngsters clambering on top of him in images taken by Kate.

William and his children
William, George, Charlotte and Louis in pictures marking William’s birthday and Father’s Day (Duchess of Cambridge/Kensington Palace/PA)

Meanwhile, the furore surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Megxit scandal was overshadowed as the country grappled with the growing coronavirus crisis.

On March 31, eight days after the nation went into lockdown, Harry and Meghan officially quit their roles as senior working royals.

The pair have taken part in video calls with charities and volunteered by delivering meals in LA and making food with a youth organisation.

Meghan recorded a powerful speech for her old high school following the death of George Floyd in the US, sharing her “absolute devastation” at racial divisions.

The duke and duchess, whose plan to launch their Archewell foundation was delayed due to the pandemic, have now signed with a speaking agency which represents the Obamas and the Clintons.

In June, a war of words continued between the Duke of York, who no longer carries out royal engagements, and American authorities his availability to answer questions about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

In recent weeks, some royals have returned to socially distanced face-to-face engagements, with Charles meeting staff at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital on June 16.

Royal visit in Norfolk
Kate at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk (Aaron Chown/PA)

William dropped in on a bakery and Kate a garden centre as the Queen issued a personal message of praise for UK businesses.

But despite the easing of lockdown, with certain restrictions still in place, the royal walkabouts of old, the customary handshakes and the palace garden parties playing host to 8,000 guests at a time seem a long way off.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News