Prince William jokes about unwittingly ‘spreading’ coronavirus during Irish tour

Prince William has joked about unwittingly "spreading" the coronavirus while meeting well-wishers during his Irish tour.

The Duke 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.

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

Earlier, the Queen 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.

  • Kate Middleton smiles as Irish First Lady makes subtle nod to royal drama

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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 of Guinness at the Storehouse – a major visitor attraction which tells the story of the famous drink – with the duke toasting his hosts in Gaelic, raising his pint and saying "Slainte".

He also addressed the guests from the worlds of sport, film, television and the armed forces in Irish, calling them "dhaoine uaisle" – "Ladies and Gentlemen".

"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," he added.

Kate had earlier calmly smiled after Ireland's First lady made a subtle nod to the ongoing royal family dramas

As the Duke and Duchess met with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, they were all smiles as Kate stunned in a green vampire's bride dress.

While shaking hands, Sabina told Kate: "Delighted to welcome you. You've had lots of exciting things happening in your family." 

But the comment clearly didn't worry Kate too much, who beamed for cameras alongside their hosts before later going on to enjoy a pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse.

The royal family has been embroiled in a number of scandals recently, including Prince Andrew's friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

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