The Queen has taken her own precautions, wearing large gloves as she handed out honours at a palace investiture on March 3 and avoiding handshakes at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.

According to Clarence House, the request that Charles and Camilla's tour be cancelled came from the government.

The tour may be replaced with UK engagements, but none involving major gatherings of people.

Charles would have headed to Bosnia and Herzegovina on March 17 and 18, being joined by Camilla from March 18 to 21. They would then head to Jordan together until March 25.

"Owing to the unfolding situation with the coronavirus pandemic, the British government has asked their royal highnesses to postpone their Spring tour," a spokesperson for the royal couple said today.