The Queen in 2002 Image:Getty

The announcement from Prince Charles’s office at Clarence House that he had been “working from home throughout the last few days as usual” despite his covid-19 diagnosis promoted some questions. In particular: What precisely does “working from home” constitute for a royal?

In Charles’s case, it presumably means checking up on his numerous charitable efforts and making sure nobody tries to sneak any modern architecture into the London skyline during this crisis. But members of the world’s extant dynasties play largely symbolic roles; they can’t do much about the coronavirus, but they can serve as public health messengers for the elected governments of their nations. This specific fight requires physical distance, though, ruling out the typical royal move of going somewhere and making grave faces for the cameras. Hence: the number of official photos popping up on Instagram of royals looking very seriously at laptops.

At 93, Queen Elizabeth II isn’t dialing into the Zoom call; instead, Buckingham Palace opted for a split-screen shot of a landline call with Boris Johnson. It is not reassuring, because literally nothing about Boris Johnson inspires any confidence whatsoever. It is fun, however, that she has probably used that phone since Jimmy Carter was president and she works surrounded by corgi figurines, not to mention what appears to be a bowl designed to look like a cabbage, which probably cost more than my car. In other words, it is the next best thing to catching sight of some truly wild art in the corner of your colleagues’ video call screen.

The rest of the royal families around Europe, however, are modeling work from home for a more digital workplace. For instance, the Crown Prince of Denmark called into the Red Cross via tablet, explaining in his caption that he was visiting digitally, not physically, due to the importance of staying home.

While Crown Princess Madeleine of Sweden went out for the more typical on-the-ground photo op, her younger brother Prince Carl Philip of Sweden and his wife Sofia contributed their own photos to the genre. They have a very nice study, or maybe it’s a breakfast nook?

Not to be outdone, the last three images on the official account of the royal family of Norway are all Crown Prince Haakon doing video calls; the best one is definitely the screenshot where he’s identified as “Kronprinsen,” in case the chandelier in the background didn’t give it away.

As for the rest of their days isolated in their palaces (or at least very nice homes, depending on how far down the pecking order), we can only wonder what they’re doing. Cutting ribbons strung across random doorways? Nervously Cloroxing the counters, having looked up how to use Clorox wipes on YouTube? Personally, I recommend binge-watching Tiger King.

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