Prince William makes his first appearance since his secret Covid-19 battle was revealed

Prince William has made his first appearance since his secret Covid-19 battle was revealed as he delivered a speech at a Fire Fighters Charity award ceremony tonight.

The Duke of Cambridge, 39, appeared relaxed in a pre-recorded video message shared at virtual Spirit of Fire Awards.

The father-of-three spoke of the challenges facing the fire service in the wake of the pandemic, and of the importance of mental health support for emergency support workers.

Prince William has made his first appearance since his secret Covid-19 battle was revealed as he delivered a speech at a Fire Fighters Charity award ceremony tonight

Prince William has made his first appearance since his secret Covid-19 battle was revealed as he delivered a speech at a Fire Fighters Charity award ceremony tonight

The appearance marks the first for Prince William since it was revealed he secretly battled Covid-19 in April – days after his father Prince Charles caught the virus- and is believed to have kept his illness private so not to alarm the public.

Opening the ceremony – which recognises the support given to the charity by fire and rescue service personnel across the UK – Prince William spoke of the challenges faced by fire service personnel in the wake of the pandemic.

He reiterated why it’s so important that they know where to turn when they need support themselves.

Prince William also announced the winner of the evening’s first award– the Special Recognition Award for Excellence in The Field of Mental Health – which was awarded to Shilla Patel, Inclusion Manager at London Fire Brigade. 

The emergency staff worker launched United Minds, the Brigade’s first mental health support network, in March 2019 to break stigma and help staff to access support when they need it. 

The Queen (pictured with Prince William last month) was 'worried' when her two direct heirs - Prince William and the Prince of Wales - contracted Covid-19, a royal insider has claimed

The Queen (pictured with Prince William last month) was ‘worried’ when her two direct heirs – Prince William and the Prince of Wales – contracted Covid-19, a royal insider has claimed

The Spirit of Fire Awards recognise the fundraising and awareness-raising achievements of members of the UK’s fire services community in their support of The Fire Fighters Charity, as well as the courage of the Charity’s beneficiaries in the face of personal adversity.

Usually held in London, with a reception at No.10 Downing Street, the coronavirus pandemic meant that the charity took the awards ceremony online in 2020 for the first time.  

The Duke’s appearance comes as a royal insider claimed the Queen, 94, was ‘worried’ when her two direct heirs – Prince William and the Prince of Wales – contracted Covid-19.

Prince William’s diagnosis was ‘no secret’ among the royal family, an insider told Vanity Fair, adding that the second in line to the throne was ‘not bedridden and actually coped pretty well’.

The Duke's appearance comes as a royal insider claimed the Queen, 94, was 'worried' when her two direct heirs - Prince William and the Prince of Wales - contracted Covid-19.

The Duke’s appearance comes as a royal insider claimed the Queen, 94, was ‘worried’ when her two direct heirs – Prince William and the Prince of Wales – contracted Covid-19.

The Duke of Cambridge, 38, secretly battled coronavirus in April - days after his father Prince Charles (pictured last week) contracted it - and is believed to have kept his illness private so not to alarm the public

The Duke of Cambridge, 38, secretly battled coronavirus in April – days after his father Prince Charles (pictured last week) contracted it – and is believed to have kept his illness private so not to alarm the public

The insider said: ‘The priority was keeping Her Majesty the Queen shielded and safe, which was thankfully what happened. But of course the Queen was worried for Charles and William and relieved that they suffered only minor symptoms.

‘My understanding was that [Prince William] was not bedridden and actually coped pretty well with the virus, working for most of the time he had it.’ 

The source close to the royal family also suggested the duke’s diagnosis was ‘no secret’ among the Firm but that Prince William didn’t want to worry the nation by going public with his illness.

MailOnline has contacted Kensington Palace for comment. 

In late March, Prince Charles announced that he tested positive for coronavirus after travelling to Birkhall, his Scottish home on the Balmoral estate.

Prince William and Kate visiting the London Ambulance Service in Croydon on March 19

Prince William and Kate visiting the London Ambulance Service in Croydon on March 19 

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out their first royal engagement via video call to school children whose parents are working on the frontline on April 8

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out their first royal engagement via video call to school children whose parents are working on the frontline on April 8 

Prince William’s royal duties in the Spring

March 19: William and Kate visit the London Ambulance Service in Croydon.

 April 1: William calls staff at Queen’s Hospital Burton following the death of consultant Amged El-Hawrani, 55.

April 8: William and Kate carry out their first royal engagement via video call to school children whose parents are working on the frontline.

April 9: – April 15: The prince has a seven-day break from calls and video messages.

April 16: Prince William opens Birmingham Nightingale hospital via video link. 

April 23: Prince William makes a surprise appearance in a Blackadder sketch with Stephen Fry in aid of the Big Night In coronavirus fundraiser. 

April 23: William joins the family to lead fifth week of Clap For the Carers.

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Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge continued to hold in-person engagements through the last week of March to show their support for people impacted by the pandemic.

But by mid-April, that approach was dropped in favour of video calls and social media posts. The timeline of Prince William’s diagnosis and illness is still unclear.

The duke is believed to have kept his illness private so not to alarm the British public which were then confronted with a spiralling number of daily deaths.

He caught the virus in the darkest days of the pandemic after the Prince of Wales and Boris Johnson fell ill, and at the time up to a thousand Britons were dying of Covid-19 each day and there had been more than 50,000 cases.

The duke was treated by palace physicians and quarantined at the family home of Anmer Hall in Norfolk. His wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, did not fall ill or test positive for the virus, it is understood.

In April, William continued working and made 14 telephone and video calls despite his diagnosis.

Following the news that his father and the Prime Minister had both fallen ill, William believed that going public with his sickness would only add to the nation’s anxieties.

As the Queen gave her impassioned ‘We Will Meet Again’ address, the Duke decided it would be better not to add to Britain’s strain, sources said.

And despite the impact the virus had on him, the father-of-three continued to contact frontline NHS workers to tell them how ‘proud’ he was of their commitment.

However, Prince William’s decision to keep his coronavirus infection secret has been questioned by royal experts, who believe he should have informed the public.

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the duke’s decision not to reveal his diagnosis was ‘questionable’ and ‘a retrograde step’ in terms of transparency. 

William and Kate with George, seven, Charlotte, five, and Louis, two, leading the nation in the 'Clap for Carers' in April

William and Kate with George, seven, Charlotte, five, and Louis, two, leading the nation in the ‘Clap for Carers’ in April

Chris Ship, royal editor for ITV, questioned the ‘wisdom’ of hiding his positive test from the public while royal commentator Robert Jobson went further and accused the Palace of lying and undermining trust.

Royal author Penny Junor also weighed in to describe the decision not to make William’s diagnosis public as ‘very odd’, saying it went against royal precedent. 

It is unknown when the prince contracted the virus. On March 19, a week before the nation was plunged into lockdown, he and Kate visited the London Ambulance Service in Croydon.

On April 1, he called staff at Queen’s Hospital Burton following the death of consultant Amged El-Hawrani, 55. 

From April 9, the prince had a seven-day break from calls and video messages. He then officially opened the NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham – via video link – on April 16. 

Just days later he appeared on Comic Relief in a pre-recorded sketch alongside Stephen Fry.

He was also filmed outside Anmer Hall leading Kate, 38, and their children George, 7, Charlotte, 5, and Louis, 2, in the ‘Clap for Carers.’