Prince Charles is not too fond of protective face masks, and will not wear one at an upcoming royal engagement unless the government tells him that it's compulsory.

New government guidelines that came into effect on Monday, July 19, allow people to remove face coverings in socially distanced situations. The Prince of Wales, who is due to attend a fundraising event at Exeter Cathedral on the same day, is planning to take advantage of these new rules. A source told Daily Mail, "This will be the first time in 18 months that we are seeing a return to normality. We'll be looking forwards, not backwards."

"This is the first time the prince has been to a location inside and won't be wearing a mask because it's a large area where people will be social distancing and it will be the first day of the new rules. When the rules state that a mask should be worn, then the Prince will wear one but not otherwise," the insider explained.

Monday has been dubbed "freedom day" by the local media as most legal coronavirus restrictions in England have been lifted as part of Step 4 of the government's pandemic recovery road map. The two-metre rule is also no longer being enforced, for the first time since March 2020. Face coverings are also not compulsory, though the government has said it "expects and recommends" people to continue wearing them in crowded areas such as public transport.

Prince Charles is not the only British royal eager to remove his face masks, as his wife Camilla had also previously expressed her dislike towards them. During a visit to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff earlier this month, the Duchess of Cornwall had told a student she "can't wait to get rid of this (mask)."

The Duchess, who recently celebrated her 74th birthday, will also be accompanying her husband for the fundraising event on Monday, marking their first working engagement since the government allowed people to skip face masks. During the visit to the Exeter Cathedral, the couple will learn about the restoration of the ancient place of worship, and also meet community groups including Devon Wildlife Trust, Exeter City Community Trust, and the Met Office, which works with the cathedral and Exeter University on climate change research.

Prince Charles
Prince Charles during a visit to Solomon Islands. AFP / ROBERT TAUPONGI AFP / ROBERT TAUPONGI