On Wednesday evening, The Royal Collection Trust announced that from Saturday, Windsor Castle would be off-limits to the public for an indefinite period of time due to the coronavirus. The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Mews and The Queen's Galleries in London and Edinburgh will also be closed, along with all Royal Collection shops.
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The action is being taken as a safety measure, the Trust said in a statement, which read: "The safety and wellbeing of our visitors and staff are our priority. The last day of operation will be Friday 20 March. Ticket sales for visits from 21 March until 1 May 2020 will be halted, and anyone who has booked to visit between those dates will automatically be refunded. As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we are unable to confirm a date on which the palaces, galleries and shops will reopen, but will monitor Government and Public Health England advice."
Windsor Castle is among the attractions closing on Saturday
The new coronavirus has now been classified as a global pandemic, with 71 confirmed deaths in the UK and many more people believed to have contracted the virus. While most will have mild symptoms, avoiding social gatherings and public spaces is one of the most effective ways to stop its spread, and schools and colleges will also be closed from Friday. Earlier on Wednesday, Prince William became the first British royal to address the crisis as he shared a video message about The National Emergencies Trust, which has launched an appeal in partnership with the British Red Cross to raise funds to help local charities support anyone suffering hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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The Prince said: "Whenever and wherever adversity strikes, the people of the UK have a unique ability to pull together. The way that local communities support those affected shows the very best of our values and human nature. The public’s desire to help in the wake of tragedy needs to be managed and channelled in the best possible way - which is why the establishment of National Emergencies Trust was so important. I said at its launch last year that I dreaded the day when it would be needed. Sadly, with the outbreak of Covid-19, that day has come faster than any of us would have hoped."
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The Prince concluded: "But now, more than ever, I am grateful that The National Emergencies Trust exists. It will ensure that support reaches those across the UK who need it most, as quickly and efficiently as possible. And it will help to ensure that all our efforts to overcome this challenge are channelled in the best possible way."
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