Coronavirus: Prince Charles says he 'got away lightly'

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Prince CharlesImage source, PA Media

The Prince of Wales has said he "got away with it quite lightly" when he contracted coronavirus at the beginning of the UK's epidemic in March.

Prince Charles, 71, self-isolated after testing positive for the virus and only experienced mild symptoms.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: "I was lucky in my case... but I've had it, and I can so understand what other people have gone through."

He expressed sympathy with those who had lost family or friends.

"I feel particularly for those who have lost their loved ones and have been unable to be with them at the time. That, to me, is the most ghastly thing," the prince said.

"But in order to prevent this happening to so many more people, I'm so determined to find a way out of this."

Prince Charles, who is the heir to the throne, recovered from coronavirus after spending his seven days of quarantine at his Birkhall home on the royal Balmoral estate. The Duchess of Cornwall, 72, was tested and did not have the virus.

He said: "I can't tell you how much I sympathise with the way that everyone has had to endure with this unbelievably testing and challenging time."

The prince said the experience made him more determined to "push and shout and prod" as he called for nature to return to the "centre of our economy".

"Before this, nature has just been pushed to the peripheries, we've exploited and dug up and cut down everything as if there was no tomorrow, as if it doesn't matter."

Without learning from the pandemic, he said we may face a similar threat in future: "The more we erode the natural world, the more we destroy biodiversity, the more we expose ourselves to this kind of danger.

"We've had these other disasters with Sars and Ebola and goodness knows what else, all of these things are related to the loss of biodiversity. So we have to find a way this time to put nature back at the centre."

The prince is surfing a great, green wave

He calls it - perhaps rather hopefully - "the Great Reset": a great opportunity to seize something good from this crisis.

Prince Charles is not the only environmental voice out there; from those marvelling at the sound of birdsong these past few months, to those urging a shift to sustainable transport, there is a green wave that the prince is surfing.

The prince is no mere follower of fashion; he has (as he once put it in a broadcast chat with his son Prince Harry) been "banging on" about the environment for more than four decades now.

It means his words on the subject are often dismissed as same-old, same-old.

But there is new urgency in this interview, and a bluntness; catastrophes, he says, concentrate the mind. The current generation and those that have come before have, he says, acted as if there is no tomorrow.

And there is controversy. Not everyone sees the planet as a sick patient in need of care.

Others, charged with the herculean task of restoring shattered economies, will have to grapple with trade-offs around environmental protection and quickly getting people back into jobs.

Prince Charles has mellowed with age; no longer does he toss policy hand grenades into the public sphere.

But on the future of the earth his passion still burns bright. And it is clear that he believes a moment has arrived when change is possible; he is determined to try and drive that change.