Iceland bosses allegedly ordered staff to defy government guidance and remove their face masks to welcome Prince Charles to the store.
Managers at Iceland Foods HQ in Deeside were overheard telling workers to take off the coverings as a ‘bizarre’ gesture to the Prince of Wales, reports North Wales Live.
A source told the site it made no sense as they had earlier been given branded masks to wear ahead of the royal’s visit to the branch.
Charles was pictured in high spirits – and wearing a mask – being escorted around the shop floor and the kitchen at the start of his annual Wales tour today.
The royal was even spotted at a supermarket self-checkout during the visit to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary.
But Sir Malcolm Walker, founder and executive chairman of Iceland, quickly ditched his face covering after greeting Charles for the tour.
Witnesses said Sir Malcolm told the royal party he “didn’t care” if there was a negative reaction to the decision on social media.
The policy appears to run counter to Welsh Government guidance, which says face coverings must be used in indoor workplaces where physical distancing is impossible.
Clarence House has not commented on the issue.
However it is understood the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall always endeavour to comply with Covid regulations.
A source said there had been a discussion between royal staff and Iceland executives at the start of the visit.
“They were talking about face coverings but Sir Malcolm wasn’t having it,” he said.
“He was being warned about the potential flak the company might get on social media – but he wasn’t bothered.”
Last year the company attracted controversy when a director was sacked after making “shocking” comments about the Welsh language.
The frozen food giant came under fire for comments made by Keith Hann in which he claimed “Celts loathe all visitors”.
Before the Prince of Wales arrived at the site, staff were seen being issued with Iceland-branded masks.
When the royal party swept in, media personnel waiting outside were told to don their masks by Palace security officers.
“Some staff were wearing masks, others weren’t,” said the source.
“But word seemed to be filtering down the line that staff shouldn’t be wearing them.
“So a senior manager spoke to his colleagues and, en masse, they all removed their face coverings.”
After being shown Iceland’s latest range of plastic-free packaging, His Royal Highness then toured the company’s cold store which he himself opened 34 years ago.
Another visit was to the Iceland Development Kitchen where the Prince sampled products and discussed fish sourcing policies.
The source said: “Sir Malcolm turned to the chef and told him to remove his mask.
“He told the chef that the Prince needed to be able to hear him speak.
“The whole visit was bizarre, especially as staff had been issued with branded masks before Prince Charles arrived.”
Iceland Foods was approached for a comment but the company said “we don’t have a response”.
Neither would it explain the company’s normal policy on workplace face coverings.
The Welsh Government also declined to comment.