Following the news that Prince Charles tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bizarre, age-old rumors that the future king is not Prince Harry’s real father have been making the rounds on social media again.
While he was out of quarantine a week after the diagnosis and even paid tribute to emergency service workers in a three-minute video he recorded as a part of his role as patron of Age UK, the illness saw trolls target Harry over his parentage.
Two viral memes that have been circulating on social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, use two different pictures of Harry standing next to his brother Prince William but feature the same joke.
They read: “Prince William: ‘Dad has COVID-19.'”
“Prince Harry: ‘Yours might have.'”
The memes have also been posted on Twitter several times but in a slightly different text format. One such tweet read, “Just heard Prince Harry’s father has COVID-19. My thoughts are with James Hewitt and the rest of his family at this difficult time.”
The jokes are a reference to a popular conspiracy theory that Hewitt, a former alleged lover of Harry’s mother Princess Diana, is the real father of the Duke of Sussex. The theory is based on the assumption that Harry must have gotten his ginger curls from Hewitt as no one else in his immediate family had the same hair color.
The rumors had become deafening following the release of a biography by journalist Angela Levin called “Harry Conversations with the Prince” that claimed Harry had a very close relationship with Hewitt.
Harry is said to have taken to Hewitt, a cavalry officer, “straight away” and used call to him “Uncle James.” Levin wrote that the prince, as a toddler, “was fascinated by everything to do with the army, so it’s no surprise he took to Hewitt.”
“He wore a military uniform, rode horses and made his mummy happy. Harry was always incredibly close to his mother and when Diana showed strong feelings for Hewitt he followed her example,” she claimed. “Harry initially called him ‘mummy’s friend’ and subsequently the more intimate ‘Uncle’ James, a sobriquet Diana encouraged both boys to use for her subsequent lovers.”
Hewitt’s affair with Diana is said to have started in 1986, two years before Harry was born. This was also around the time Prince Charles is believed to have been cheating on Diana with his current wife and former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles.
However, Hewitt has repeatedly denied that he is Harry’s father, doing so most recently in a 2017 interview on Australian Channel Seven’s Sunday Night show.
When asked by host Melissa Doyle if he was the Duke of Sussex’s biological father, he replied, “No I’m not.” Pressed further about the persistent rumors, he said, “It sells papers. It’s worse for him, probably, poor chap.”