This week in 2020, Prince William joked about spreading coronavirus on his trip to Ireland
Life & Style

This week in 2020, Prince William joked about spreading coronavirus on his trip to Ireland

WELL THIS is awkward.

On 3 March 2020, there were a total of two confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland.

In the beginning, the news was reported carefully by public health officials, stating that a person in the east, west, north or south of the country-- who had usually returned from Northern Italy in the preceding days-- had been confirmed to be carrying the virus.

Despite the scenes in northern Italy, where obituaries in local newspapers went on for several pages and entire towns were blocked off, the rest of the world were not quite able to believe that something like that could happen here.

This week last year, Galway was kicking off celebrations having been chosen to host the 2020 European Capital of Culture-- a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Galway and one which was promising a huge amount of tourism, events and celebrations which would be reported on all across Europe.

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As part of the Galway 2020 event, British Royals William and Kate visited the city, where they experienced traditional Irish music in a Galway pub and learned how to play GAA at a local children's club.

(Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The event drew large crowds, as while there had been confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, there was not yet any talk about social distancing, mask-wearing or staying at home.

Before Galway, the Duke and Duchess visited Dublin, and while meeting well-wishers at the Guinness Storehouse, the British royal appeared to make light of the outbreak after asking a paramedic if he thought the media coverage was "being a little hyped up".

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin
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"Does it seem quite dramatic about coronavirus at the moment? Is it being a little bit hyped up do you think in the media?" he asked.

He went on to joke: "By the way, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are spreading coronavirus, Sorry. We’re keeping an eye on that, so do tell us if we need to stop."

The joke, completely innocent as it was at the time, ended up becoming slightly notorious-- as less than two weeks later schools, colleges, and businesses were closed, people were told to remain at home as Ireland went into its first strict lockdown in an attempt to save lives.

And to add salt to the wounds, Prince William himself later revealed that he had in fact caught Covid-19 shortly afterwards.

He didn't tell the public at the time because the Royal Family didn't want to "alarm the nation," particularly after both Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson were fighting the disease at the time.