Royal sources have countered claims a cross-border trip by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Scotland was in breach of Covid-19 travel guidance by stating it was for “work purposes”.
The pair arrived in Edinburgh on Monday as part of a whistle-stop, three-day tour of England, Scotland and Wales by royal train to thank teachers, meet schoolchildren and praise paramedics for their efforts during the pandemic.
The First Minister was asked during her daily briefing to respond to claims the trip is in breach of Covid-19 cross-border travel restrictions.
However, Ms Sturgeon claimed any questions should be directed to the royal household.
A royal source said travelling across the border is permitted for “work purposes” and that the trip had been arranged in consultation with the Scottish, UK and Welsh governments.
‘A matter for royal household’
Speaking during the briefing, the First Minister said: “The royal visit is a matter for the royal household and the arrangements around it and any questions around those arrangements should be directed to the royal household.
“The Scottish Government was advised about the intention to visit and we made sure that the royal household were aware of restrictions in place in Scotland so that could inform both the decision and planning of the visit.”
It is an offence to travel between Scotland and England for non-essential purposes and also an offence to travel between level three or four local authorities – with Edinburgh currently in level three.
However, there are exceptions within the travel regulations including travel for work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, but only where that cannot be done from home.
Edinburgh University Professor Devi Sridhar, who advises the Scottish Government on Covid-19, tweeted in response to the trip: “Some things I will never understand about Britain.
“Aren’t we all in a pandemic and living under travel restrictions?”
The couple travelled overnight after setting off on Sunday evening from London’s Euston station on the special tour, which will see them thank communities, outstanding individuals and key workers for their efforts during the coronavirus crisis.
The royal couple first met ambulance staff in Newbridge, near Edinburgh, before hopping back on the train to see Holy Trinity First School in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland.
The visit coincided with the announcement that the duke and duchess have become joint patrons of NHS Charities Together.
The 240 NHS charities in the UK provide extra funding and additional services above and beyond what the NHS core-funds, supporting hospitals, community and mental health services, and ambulance services.