Prince Charles, 71, of the United Kingdom has tested positive for the coronavirus. His wife Camilla so far has tested negative.
The prince is displaying minor symptoms and is otherwise in fine fettle. But given his age, any threat to his health is of concern. He will stay for the time being at the royal estate at Balmoral in Scotland.
With Queen Elizabeth II at 93 years old and the royal family in upheaval due to other factors, this development is major news for a country rocked by the virus and the steps needed to combat it.
Royal aides have been planning for the ascension of Charles to the throne, as Charles III, for decades.
If that were somehow to be interrupted for any reason, or as some have suggested by his retirement to permit his son Prince William become king, the House of Windsor would be in recently unchartered waters and the sublime institution of the monarchy itself could be threatened.
On top of that factor, current controversies that surround American adventuress Meghan Markle do not do the royals any favors.
In a scenario very reminiscent of King Edward VIII in 1936, Markle has estranged her husband Prince Harry from his family and is also using him as a shill to advance her entertainment career.
Her anti-Trump views and crass Hollywood manner are doing damage to the royal brand around the world to the point that she and her sadly besotted husband, again-much like Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson, have been virtually thrown out of the royal family.
This puts increased pressure on the respected and dutiful second in line to the throne Prince William and his lovely and stylish wife Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge. His estrangement from his brother because of Markle, British public opinion that may prefer his coronation over the reign of his father, his father’s age (Charles’ possible elderly kingship recalls the ascension of Edward VII in 1901), and now his father’s illness could be signs that point to a William V ascension sooner rather than after his father’s demise.
This is a fate, though tragic in many senses, that many would welcome for the greater good of the crown and nation.