Prince William and Queen Elizabeth II stepped out yesterday to visit the DSTL. Yes, we’re still talking about this because the optics really were THAT AWFUL. If this had been She Who Shall Not Be Named, it would have been a week-long story with every royal commentator chiming in about how going maskless was the worst thing ever to happen to the monarchy. And they would have been right, in that case. It is absolutely shocking to me that the Queen and her advisors AND Prince William and his advisors all thought it would be perfectly fine to go maskless for the Queen’s first public event in seven months. My mind is still blown when I think of just how many people had to sign off on this maskless public health hazard. It was so bad that as soon as the photos came out, even PIERS MORGAN was like “eh, this is awful.”
Piers Morgan blasted the Queen and Prince William for appearing in public without wearing face masks today, calling it ‘not a smart move by the Royal Family’. Royal author Omid Scobie also suggested it was a wasted opportunity to present a ‘strong visual’ amid the country’s ongoing fight against coronavirus. The 94-year-old monarch, who falls into the ‘at risk’ age bracket for Covid-19, was joined by her grandson at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down near Salisbury for her first public engagement since lockdown.
The duo met scientists who worked in the aftermath of the 2018 Novichok attack, and are currently supporting the UK’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. But while the pair maintained strict social distancing and arrived separately by helicopter and car, neither opted to wear face coverings – with all 48 people due to come into close contact with the royals tested for Covid-19 by Dstl beforehand.
In response to a tweet from Kensington Palace about the event, GMB host Piers tweeted: ‘Why no masks or social distancing? Sorry, but this is not a smart move by the Royal Family as the virus rages and the country heads into another lockdown.’
Mr Scobie, who wrote the controversial biography Finding Freedom which raised eyebrows for its gushing praise and intimate knowledge of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, tweeted this afternoon: ‘No masks for anyone at today’s engagement, but Buckingham Palace confirm that the Queen consulted her own doctors and all staff at @dstlmod tested negative before the visit.’ He then followed up with a further tweet, writing: ‘My two cents: While sensible and safe precautious were clearly made, I do worry that most people seeing the photos/videos won’t know the back story. As the majority of the UK enters tighter restrictions, seeing leaders in masks would have been a strong visual [sic].’
There were people tweeting @ me all day, saying that I didn’t know sh-t about local mask protocols and social-distancing protocols and everyone involved had a Covid test. Like, this petty a–hole has really brainwashed people, huh? Covid tests aren’t 100% accurate and there are no guarantees about exposure or when people become infectious. I’m glad that everyone involved in yesterday’s maskless stunt – 48 people in all, not including the Queen, Prince William, and the courtiers they brought with them – tested negative for the virus recently. But a negative test doesn’t mean that every single one of those 50-plus people needed to go maskless. Beyond the actual science of exposure and infection of an airborne virus, it was plainly reprehensible optics for two public figures. William and the Queen should have simply worn masks to encourage everyone else to wear masks. The point of all of this is not to look for an excuse or a work-around to avoid mask-wearing.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.