Why Kate Middleton Isn't Wearing Her Engagement Ring While Self-Isolating at Home

While in self-isolation and working from home, Kate Middleton was pictured without one of her key accessories.

On Sunday, Kate and Prince William‘s shared photos on their joint Instagram account of the the couple diligently working from home. In one of the snaps, the royal mom of three, who wore the coral pink Marks & Spencer suit that she also wore to a recent call center visit with Prince William, 37, was notably without her sapphire and diamond engagement ring and her diamond eternity band.

Her decision to remove her jewelry is likely to aid in the effectiveness of handwashing, which is essential in stopping the spread of the virus.

While Kate, 38, wore her Welsh gold wedding band, she was missing her iconic engagement ring, which once belonged to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. She also opted to not wear her white gold diamond eternity band.

A 2018 study at Georgia State University found that rings provided “a protected area [on the skin] in which bacteria can flourish,” according to researchers. They also found that those who didn’t wear rings were able to kill more bacteria when washing their hands than those who wore rings.

This isn’t the first time the Duchess of Cambridge chose not to wear her engagement ring.

During a visit to Evelina London Children’s Hospital in January, Kate slipped off her sparklers in adherence with the hospital’s policy on minimal jewelry. Since she would have to cleanse her hands thoroughly before touring the wards and treatment areas, it is recommended to remove jewelry before entering.

Kate’s stunning engagement ring often comes off during hospital visits, dating back to the year she and Prince William tied the knot. While opening the Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Mittal Children’s Medical Centre in Jan. 2018, she also opted to leave the accessory behind.

Kate’s ring is a sight to behold, consisting of 14 solitaire diamonds surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-karat white gold. Her gold wedding band, however, which she usually wears along with her engagement ring, is much more simple.

The Welsh gold wedding ring is an 88-year-old royal tradition, dating back to Elizabeth Bowes Lyon and the future George VI. In 1923, the royal ring was fashioned from a gift of Clogau gold with enough left over for the weddings of the Queen in 1947 as well as those of the late Princess Margaret, Princess Anne and Princess Diana. And just before Kate’s royal wedding to Prince William, the palace announced that her wedding ring would also be made of Welsh gold.

Earlier this month, both William and Kate spoke with leaders in the mental health sector over the phone. William had a call with Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, while Kate spoke to Catherine Roche, CEO of Place2Be. (Both Mind and Place2be are charities included in the royal couple’s Heads Together campaign.)

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William, whose father Prince Charles tested positive for coronavirus, has previously been vocal about the need for the U.K. to band together amid the outbreak of the virus.

“Whenever and wherever adversity strikes, the people of the U.K. have a unique ability to pull together,” William said in a personal video message. “The way that local communities support those affected shows the very best of our values and human nature.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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