CORONAVIRUS

Belgium’s Prince Joachim tests positive for coronavirus after attending party in Spain

The police are investigating a gathering of 26 people in the Andalusian city of Córdoba, at which King Philippe’s nephew was present

Belgium's Prince Lorenz with two of his children, Prince Joachim and Princess Luise Maria, in a 2017 file photo.
Belgium's Prince Lorenz with two of his children, Prince Joachim and Princess Luise Maria, in a 2017 file photo.Patrick van Katwijk / Getty Images

The Belgian Royal Household has confirmed to EL PAÍS that an aristocrat reported to have attended a party in Córdoba that breached coronavirus confinement measures was Prince Joachim, 28, the nephew of Belgium’s King Philippe.

The same sources explained that Joachim, the ninth in line to the throne, traveled to Spain on May 24 for professional reasons, but offered no further information on what these were. They also confirmed that the prince has tested positive for Covid-19. The Royal Household did not state whether Joachim had contracted the disease in his own country or while he was in Spain.

Although the Royal Household claimed that the prince had traveled to Spain for professional reasons, Joachim’s partner, Victoria Ortiz, is from the Andalusian city, according to the couple’s social media posts.

The 27 people who attended the party are in quarantine and the police are investigating the event with a view to levying a fine of between €600 and €10,000

After landing in Madrid, Prince Joachim took a high-speed AVE train to Córdoba. A day after, he began to present symptoms compatible with the coronavirus, and was confirmed positive via a PCR test.

The 27 people who attended the party are in quarantine and the police are investigating the event with a view to levying a fine of between €600 and €10,000 for having nearly doubled the permitted number of people at social gatherings under Phase 2 of the government’s coronavirus deescalation plan, the stage in which the province of Córdoba is currently in.

“I feel surprised and indignant, given that at a moment of national mourning for so many dead, an incident of this type stands out,” said the national government’s subdelegate in Córdoba, Rafaela Valenzuela, on Saturday. “It’s completely irresponsible, because that number of people multiplied could cause an outbreak, and that would mean that Córdoba, after passing to Phase 2, would have to take a step back. That is unforgivable. The police are investigating not just the observance of confinement measures, but also the breaking of other rules, given that we are still under a state of alarm. The virus is still out there.”

Prince Joachim, the son of the Belgian king’s sister, Astrid, and Prince Lorenz, traveled to Córdoba despite a coronavirus case having been detected in his family, and before the origin of the infection had been determined. At the start of this month, Prince Laurent of Belgium, Joachim’s uncle, confirmed that the coronavirus had affected his family, without revealing which relatives had tested positive. “We do not know how, but the coronavirus has entered our household,” he stated. Laurent, who is King Philippe’s brother, stated that all safety measures were being observed. “For weeks now, we have hardly gone out – only to shop and for sports,” he said, adding that when they did go outside, they would wear masks and gloves.

Joachim has maintained a low profile in public. He studied business after spending a year in the military, as is customary for members of the Belgian royal family. His first professional activity was carried out in the United States, and he has worked in the finance sector. In November, it emerged that he would complete his studies at the prestigious Harvard University in the United States.

English version by Simon Hunter.

Errata

An earlier version of this story confused facts about Prince Lorenz and Prince Laurent. Apologies to our readers for this error.

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