Hours after testing positive for coronavirus, Monaco’s Prince Albert remains certain the virus can be overcome.
Sovereign of one of the world’s most densely populated states, the 62-year old royal dad tells PEOPLE, “We’re going to get through this, but it’s going to take time.”
Tested anonymously on Monday morning, the prince was confirmed to have the virus on Thursday afternoon by labs at Monaco’s Princess Grace Hospital Center. Just hours after, he spoke exclusively to PEOPLE from his office in private palace apartments. Seated beneath an Andy Warhol silk screen of his mother Princess Grace, he shared his experience since self-confining on Sunday.
He describes himself as “feeling okay. My symptoms are flu-like, but it feels like a pretty mild case. I’ve a slight fever, not really that bad. A little bit of a cough. I’d a runny nose the first few days, that was the first sign. I’ve felt a little stuffed up but that’s it.
“I have be careful because of my recent medical history fighting off pneumonia a couple of years ago.”
The husband of Princess Charlene and father of 5-year old twins Jacques and Gabriella, he is also aware that given his previous health history and age, he fits the profile of those currently seen as most susceptible.
“That’s a consideration, but you know there’s a lot of cases of people younger than 60 contracting it,” he says. “It can hit anybody of any age.”
Asked how he believes he may have contracted it, the Prince — who has been leading his country’s task force efforts — says, “Ask one of my cabinet members. It could have been from a number of other people. For weeks now I’ve tried to be cautious, using hand sanitizers and all that, but you never know.
“I could’ve caught it talking to someone from less than three or even four feet away,” he says. “And it could have happened at any point in the last 10 days or so. You never know.”
He notes that he last visited London on March 10 to attend an event for the Prince Charles‘ charity WaterAid.
Albert’s family, he says, show no signs of illness at present. With exception, he has been largely living and working at the palace — where he is now confined — since the pandemic struck neighboring Italy, while his family is “up at the country house at Roc Agel.”
“They’ve been there pretty much since we came back from [French ski resort] Courchevel, so pretty much two weeks ago.
“I can’t move much or too soon,” he says. “But as soon as I get the medical go-ahead, I’ll join them there.” For now, contact is by telephone, Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime.
The children, he says, “have actually been a little sick with a stomach bug, so I haven’t been able to kiss them for more than a week. So I hope they won’t show symptoms, and so far they haven’t shown any.”
Work in the palace has changed as well, with social distancing and now confinement to his private apartments. “Sunday afternoon I had some friends in here at the palace, and that was really the last time I had a social encounter. We have had meetings since but there we’ve been pretty separated.”
He says he decided to be tested anonymously because “I didn’t want them to treat me any differently than anyone else. There are cases more severe than mine which needed to be tested, so I didn’t want them putting me on top of the pile.”
Asked what message he would like to send to others, he says, “Follow instructions. Don’t mess around with this. This virus is serious and the propagation is very serious. It can hit anyone of any age group at anytime.
“Look, we’re going to get through this. It’s going to take awhile. But everyone has to follow the recommendations. Yes, it’s a nuisance and yes, being confined is very limiting — but it’s the only way to stop the spread of this virus.”
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