Covid-19: Dutch royals cut Greek getaway short after public outcry.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

In their second pandemic-related gaffe in two months, the Dutch royals have been forced to return from holiday in Greece – and the prime minister has had to take the blame for their behaviour – after the government advised families against unnecessary travel during the half-term break.

In a bizarre series of events, the royal family flew to their holiday compound in the Peloponnese last Friday and returned to the Netherlands on Saturday, less than 24 hours later, after an outcry on social media was taken up by traditional news outlets and opposition politicians.

Although King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, and their three teenage daughters – princesses Amalia, Alexia, and Ariane – flew to Greece in the privacy of a government jet, their return journey was in the full public glare of a scheduled KLM flight to Schiphol airport.

The royals flew to Greece despite the government’s announcement last Tuesday of a new “limited lockdown” nationwide for the next four weeks at least – with more than 10,000 dead since March, and a second wave of the virus sweeping the country at a rate of more than 8,000 new cases a day.

In a brief statement, the royals said: “We have seen the reaction and messages in the media and we are going to end our holiday.

“We don’t want there to be any doubt: it is crucial to follow the guidelines in order to bring Covid-19 under control – and discussion about our holiday is not contributing to that.”

Second offence

This is the second time since August that the royals have apparently unknowingly contravened Covid-19 regulations to which most of the rest of the country adheres.

At the end of August, again in Greece, the king and queen were photographed shoulder to shoulder with a local restaurateur – and with none of the party wearing masks.

On this occasion, however, the fallout was more serious, because prime minister Mark Rutte has “ministerial responsibility” for liaison between the government and the royal household – and he was forced on Sunday to suggest that responsibility for the latest gaffe had been his.

Mr Rutte said he took “full ministerial responsibility” for the monarch’s decision and should have intervened sooner, particularly following Tuesday’s new restrictions.

With 8,141 new cases in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, and 1,568 patients in hospital, 352 of them in intensive care, the public health institute’s chief virologist, Jaap van Dissel, warned the limited lockdown might have to continue until December.

Related news

US reports record Covid-related death toll

Daily Covid cases hit 200,000 with 2,885 deaths reported on Wednesday

Warning that significant gaps remain in talks between Brexit negotiators.

Johnson still intends on Monday to restore to Internal Market Bill the treaty-breaking clauses that were removed by House of Lords

European and US experts question UK’s vaccine fast-track.

Fauci claims US is proceeding ‘the correct way’ on vaccine while the UK ‘did not do it as carefully’

Whiff of a Brexit fisheries win would bring joy to Johnson.

London Letter: British PM would have little difficulty pushing for the nuclear option

Austria tightens borders and imposes ski restrictions for Christmas.

Stricter measures come amid figures showing record level of 2,431 deaths in one week

Bangladesh begins moving Rohingya families to remote island.

Rights groups call for relocation to be halted on safety concerns and lack of consent from refugees

Explosion at Bristol water plant causes ‘number of casualties’.

Blast at treatment works in Avonmouth believed to have involved chemical tanks

1 13

Four killed in explosion at Bristol water treatment plant.

No ongoing safety concerns after ‘tragic incident’ at Avonmouth facility, say police

Liberian rebel commander in outburst at start of trial for cannibalism, rape.

Alieu Kosiah(45)is also accused of recruiting a 12-year-old as bodyguard during civil war

Swedish woman cleared of imprisoning son for decades.

Authorities to close investigation after finding no evidence man in 40s held against will