Much like the U.S., the United Kingdom has been hit hard by the Coronavirus, and as of three weeks ago, the entire country went into lockdown. Individuals are allowed to go outside once per day for exercise, and once per day if they need to do essential shopping for groceries.
The impact of the virus has been felt across the country, but some individuals feel that the U.K. could have been more prepared for the outbreak.
Chris Cook, The Under Butler to the Duke of Marlborough (traditionally the Queen’s Cousin) joined us for a Zoom interview to speak about the impact this has had on parts of the royal family.
“So in the U.K. it didn’t…well not took us off-guard but we were very distracted by all the Brexit mess, and that was everything. So, we had all this political stuff bubbling up and when this virus started popping up in China we didn’t pay any attention to it. When it gradually started coming over towards Europe people started taking note of it, but again our political system was so cluttered it couldn’t rise to the top of the news cycle. So, it took us a little while to take it seriously, and the British people, much like the Americans I think, are no fans of having their liberties infringed upon,” Cook said.
However true that maybe, the U.K. did institute a mandatory stay-at-home order across the country, something the U.S. has yet to do. In terms of statistics, according to the WHO, the U.K. has over 60,000 cases and around 7,000 deaths. That’s about one-fifth of the confirmed cases and half the deaths of the U.S. for comparison.
“Prince Charles did test positive for it, but he has now left his isolation period so by all accounts he’s fine and he’s got through it. Um, the queen, we’ve got no indications that she has it, but similar in the U.S. with the President, with the Queen being the head of state and the Monarch, there are certain protocols which come into play when this kind of event takes place. So, each of the major royals is isolating at one of the big estates across the country. So, they’re not together. I believe the Queen is at Sandringham which is a large property up and towards the north of England, and that’s where she’ll be until this blows over” Cook said.
Chris is currently isolating in Blenheim Palace, and while he has no complaints about the space, he did speak about what it’s like trying to get out from time to time. Beyond his access to the once-daily exercise and the grocery run, Chris has begun volunteering with the NHS to shop for individuals who may be at greater risk in the area. This opportunity to leave the house another time, as well as help members of the community, has proven to be a good way to break up the monotony of daily quarantine life.
Chris spoke briefly about Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the recent developments regarding his diagnosis with the virus. Boris Johnson was diagnosed about a week ago, and his condition has been one of the top headlines in the U.K. since.
“As of about two days ago he was taken into the hospital, and yesterday around 8 o’clock we were informed that the Prime Minister was taken into Intensive Care, which is not a headline the British people are used to reading,” Cook said.
He described the event as surprising, explaining that with all of the partisanship shown in politics lately, this issue was something everyone was coming together to deal with.
“This doesn’t seem to be an issue of politics. It’s just something everyone is coming together to try and fix, and it’s heartening to see. That old World War Two spirit we Brits love to brag about, it’s actually coming through in times like these” he said.