Just weeks ago, Prince William and Kate Middleton were criticized for going on a Royal Tour of the United Kingdom to thank frontline workers. Despite their admirable mission, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge received backlash from many people — including leaders from Wales and Scotland — who believed the tour didn’t fall under the category of essential travel. Now, the royals are under fire once again for seemingly skirting COVID-19 lockdown measures.
On Sunday, Middleton, Prince William, and their three children were seen going for a walk along Luminate Sandringham, a mile-long trail near Queen Elizabeth’s estate in Norfolk. They were joined by Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who also brought their two kids along for the trip. Currently, Norfolk is under a lockdown that dictates no more than six people from intermingling households are allowed to meet up outside.
Photos of the two families were printed in the Daily Mail on Monday. A royal source stressed to the tabloid that the Cambridges and the Wessexes hadn’t met up intentionally, but onlookers were still upset. “They were clearly breaking COVID rules, in my opinion, because there were nine of them from two separate households. They were obviously all having a fun evening out,” one bystander told the Daily Mail. “I couldn't help thinking that it was one rule for them and another for the rest of us. It was really quite blatant.”
The U.K. has implemented a tiered lockdown system, and Norfolk has been placed under the second tier since the start of December. But even the most low-alert level, Tier 1, has “the rule of six” in place, and people who disregard the measure could be subject to pay a fine. Repeat offenders could owe up to £3,200.
COVID-19 cases in the U.K. have been steadily spiking since September, and on Sunday, an all-time high of 35,928 cases were reported across the U.K. “Scientific advice is clear: the longer you meet others for, the higher the risk of you catching and spreading the virus,” the U.K., Welsh, and Scottish governments wrote in a joint statement last week. “If you do intend to form a bubble, you should keep the bubble small and your visits short.”