“It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks,” a spokesperson said.
His last major public engagement was as the guest of honour at a charity dinner at Mansion House for victims of the Australian bushfire catastrophe. He spoke for 10 minutes, met dozens of people and sat next to Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, George Brandis.
A spokesperson for Brandis said the former attorney-general was working from home in line with UK government guidance and had no symptoms.
“All of us at the Australian High Commission wish His Royal Highness a speedy recovery,” Brandis said.
The National Health Service has not contacted the organisers of the dinner to seek a guest list for contact tracing.
The fundraiser took place two weeks ago on March 12, the same day Prince Charles met the Queen for the last time before she moved from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle as the pandemic worsened.
“Her Majesty the Queen remains in good health,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said. “The Queen last saw The Prince of Wales briefly on the morning of March 12 and is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.”
The World Health Organisation says the incubation period for COVID-19 can be up to two weeks.
The day before the Australian fundraiser, Prince Charles attended a red carpet event at the London Palladium. When he stepped out of the car and onto the red carpet he went to shake the hand of a guest before realising it was not appropriate and instead clutched his hands together and offered a ‘namaste’ greeting.
He met Prince Albert of Monaco, who also has the virus, in central London on March 10.
The Prince has spoken to his sons Prince William and Prince Harry and “remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual”.
The British government has been criticised for a lack of widespread testing as the coronavirus outbreak sweeps across the country. Britain has conducted about 97,000 tests compared to more than 160,000 in Australia.
The NHS Scotland website states that people will “generally” only be tested for COVID-19 if they “have serious illness that requires admission to hospital”.
However separate NHS guidance states a person can meet the criteria for a test if they develop a new, continuous cough or a high temperature.
Some frontline health workers have complained of being refused tests despite showing symptoms. They have instead been sent home to self-isolate for 14 days.
Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood said she was satisfied the royal couple had been tested for “clinical reasons”. Calderwood said she had contacted the testing team personally after learning of the royal encounter.
“From the information I have been given it was clear he was tested for clinical reasons,” Calderwood said. But she did not explain why the Duchess was tested.
At least one MP, the Scottish National Party’s Joan McAlpine, raised doubts over the treatment.
“Given that [Charles’] symptoms are said to be mild, like many I wonder how he was tested when many NHS and social care workers cannot get tested,” she said.
“My nephew, who has serious asthma and a chest infection was recently refused a test.”
Brandis on Wednesday urged Australians who wanted to leave the United Kingdom to do so as soon as possible.
“Please don’t delay in making your arrangements, because we just can’t be certain for how long there will be availability of flights,” he said.
Bevan Shields is the Europe correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.