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Prince William jokes about 'spreading coronavirus' during Irish visit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on a three-day visit to Ireland.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a reception in the Guinness Storehouse.
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a reception in the Guinness Storehouse.
Image: James Whatling/PA Images

BRITAIN’S DUKE OF Cambridge has joked about unwittingly “spreading” the coronavirus while meeting well-wishers during his Irish tour.

Prince William poked fun at himself after he questioned a paramedic about whether he thought coverage of the illness was “being a little hyped up” in the media.

William’s comments came as it emerged the royal and his wife, who are on a three-day visit to Ireland, are taking advice on the coronavirus threat, but will continue meeting people as usual.

Earlier, Queen Elizabeth II wore gloves to present honours during an investiture ceremony, but Buckingham Palace declined to confirm whether the monarch was taking the precaution because of the outbreak.

William talked about the infection as he chatted to emergency workers at a reception hosted by Britain’s Ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett in the Gravity Bar at Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse.

He asked Joe Mooney, an advance paramedic with the National Ambulance Service: “I bet everyone’s like ‘I’ve got coronavirus, I’m dying’, and you’re like ‘no, you’ve just got a cough’.

“Does it seem quite dramatic about coronavirus at the moment? Is it being a little bit hyped up do you think in the media?”

Later he grimaced with mock horror as he said:

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 couple shook hands with dozens of people on the first day of their tour and are expected to continue to do so, based on advice they are being given.

A royal source said last night the couple were following guidance from Public Health England and the Department of Health and that meant “business as usual” for now.

“This is a discussion we have been having and everything we are doing should continue as usual,” said the source.

William and Kate enjoyed a pint at the Guinness Storehouse – a major visitor attraction which tells the story of the famous drink – with the duke toasting his hosts in Irish, raising his pint and saying “sláinte”.

He also addressed the guests from the worlds of sport, film, television and the Defence Forces in Irish, calling them “dhaoine uaisle”.

“Catherine and I are delighted to be here tonight and are both very grateful to Robin for his generous words,” said the duke.

Ireland is a country that we have both heard so much about, so we are really excited to be here with you to see it first-hand for ourselves. In coming to the Guinness Storehouse, we are retracing the footsteps of my grandmother, who was shown how to pour the perfect pint here in 2011.

“Ladies and Gentlemen let me tell you it is not often that I find myself following the Queen to a pub. But I am looking forward to testing for myself the theory that Guinness tastes even better in Ireland than overseas.”

the-duke-and-duchess-of-cambridge-visit-ireland-day-1 Sinéad Burke speaks with the the Duchess of Cambridge. Source: James Whatling/PA Images

During the reception William and Kate, in a emerald green dress by The Vampire’s Wife, were introduced to groups of guests, from film and TV, sports, sustainability and environment, creative and cultural Ireland, education and research, the charity sector and uniformed services.

They included Game Of Thrones star Liam Cunningham, and Misfits actor Robert Sheehan, comedian Deirdre O’Kane and actors Sarah Bolger and Orla Brady.

Speaking afterwards, Cunningham said he had met the duke before at an after-party for the Warhorse premiere at Buckingham Palace

“They are total sweethearts,” he said of the couple.

“They are gorgeous, they are beautiful people. They are incredibly charming.

“They are much too classy to say whether they watched Game of Thrones, but he came over and said, ‘Liam, you need no introduction’. They are fantastic ambassadors for the UK.”

They royal couple also met inclusivity campaigner Sinead Burke, who was one of the Forces for Change chosen to appear on the cover of the September issue of Vogue by their sister-in-law the Duchess of Sussex.

The duke and duchess’s outing came after a day of formal engagements to launch their first official visit to Ireland, nine years after the queen became the first British monarch to visit the country since its independence.

After arriving at Dublin airport, they met President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina – plus their dog Bród at the statesman’s official residence Aras an Uachtarain.

The Cambridges discussed the implications of Brexit with Ireland’s president and about building on the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement which ushered in peace in Northern Ireland.

In Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance, the royals also honoured the memory of those who gave their lives for Irish Independence from Britain, echoing the queen’s symbolic visit there in 2011 when she bowed her head in tribute to the fallen.

The couple then met the outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Ireland’s Government Buildings.

Their three-day tour will focus on the themes of reconciliation, youth, culture, sustainability and the environment, and will see the couple visit the counties of Meath, Kildare and Galway.

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