• Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Camilla welcomes ill children to Clarence House to decorate tree

Dec 15, 2021

Decking the halls! Camilla pops a bearskin on little boy’s head as she invites seriously ill children to help decorate Clarence House Christmas tree

  • Duchess of Cornwall welcomed seriously ill children to Clarence House today
  • Children helped to decorate the Christmas tree in a magical Christmas treat 
  • Royal has held the festive gathering for the last 16 years but was bitterly disappointed to be forced to do it virtually last December due to lockdown

The Duchess of Cornwall showed her festive side today as she welcomed seriously ill children to Clarence House for a ‘magical’ Christmas treat today. 

Camilla, 74, sported a white coat dress, her signature black boots and fetching owl broach as she  opened the doors of her London home to ten excited youngsters from Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.

The children were invited to decorate her Christmas tree, enjoy a lunch of sausages and mash – served up by the royal herself – and treated to festive tunes by the Band of the Welsh Guards.

There was also a very special surprise in the form of a video message from children’s television star Mr Tumble – and even a royally-approved goodie bag to take home.

The duchess has held the festive gathering for the last 16 years but was bitterly disappointed to be forced to do it virtually last December due to lockdown. 

The Duchess of Cornwall proved she welcomed seriously-ill children to Clarence House for a ‘magical’ Christmas treat today. She is pictured helping a little boy try on a bearkin

Putting the star up! Camilla had some assistance from Captian Ed Andresen of the Welsh Guards to put star on top of the tree

This year, after careful consultation with the charities, they decided to go ahead with it in person again amid strict Covid protocol, including lateral flow tests for all those involved.

‘It wasn’t the same without you’ smiled Camilla as the doors opened the the youngsters came in, one by one.

She added to reporters: ‘It’s just magical to have them here. Such a special, special event for me. It makes my year.’

They were greeted by her equerry, Captain Edward Andersen of the Welsh Guards, resplendent in his bearskin, who invited the first child, Nathan Best, ten to pick a decoration, before placing it on his sword and attempting to place it on the tree.

‘This is Ed here,’ explained the duchess, sporting an elegant cream dress.

‘He’s going to help you decorate the tree. And if you ask really nicely, he might let you try on his bearskin. ‘

The duchess has held the festive gathering for the last 16 years but was bitterly disappointed to be forced to do it virtually last December due to lockdown

This year, after careful consultation with the charities, they decided to go ahead with it in person again amid strict Covid protocol, including lateral flow tests for all those involved

Duchess of Cornwall, with assistance from Captian Ed Andresen of the Welsh Guards, invites children to help decorate the Clarence House Christmas Tree

Nathan, from Bambury, Oxfordshire, who suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome and other complex medical disorders, placed the first decoration on himself and then watched intently as Captain Andersen tried to place his decoration on for him – failing at his first attempt but managing on his second. ‘This is a tricky one!’ he laughed.

Oscar Richards, seven, who suffers from severe epilepsy, shyly asked to try on Captain Andresen’s bearskin.

Camilla eagerly grabbed it from his head band placed it on Oscar’s.

‘Is that quite heavy?’ she asked. ‘There we are!’

Ahuoyiza Okino, ten, who has sickle cell and was with her Roald Dhal nurse, Elizabeth Joshua-John, wanted to go one better – and asked to use Captain Andersen’s sword herself.

He and Camilla carefully accompanied her to the tree. ‘Oooh, careful, there you go,’ said Camilla.

Spotting another little boy eyeing up the bearskin, Camilla introduced him to her equerry.

The children  were greeted by her equerry, Captain Edward Andersen of the Welsh Guards, resplendent in his bearskin, who invited the first child, Nathan Best, ten to pick a decoration, before placing it on his sword and attempting to place it on the tree. Pictured are guests speaking to Camilla

Camilla walked around handing out plates of food herself as the children tucked in. Her private secretary then told their guests they had a very special surprise – a personal video message from children’s television legend Mr Tumble himself

Ready to protect the Queen! One little boy tried on a bearskin – the helmet worn by Queen’s Guard – with the help of Camila

‘It’s quite hot under there isn’t it? She said.

She also teased Captain Andersen when another child insisted they wanted to put their decoration on the tree themselves. ‘Oh dear you have been declined,’ she told him. ‘No surprise, he’s seen my work!’ the solder replied.

Afterwards the youngsters were invited into the dining room for sausages and mash – created in the shape of smiley faces – and all sorts of sweet treats.

Camilla walked around handing out plates of food herself as the children tucked in.

Her private secretary then told their guests they had a very special surprise – a personal video message from children’s television legend Mr Tumble himself.

The youngsters gazed goggle-eyed as a video was played for them on the screen – laughing uproariously at his antics – before they were filmed wishing him a very happy Christmas in return.

Her Royal Highness became Patron of Helen & Douglas House in 2007. She is also patron of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, which provides specialist nurses and support for seriously ill children.

Duchess of Cornwall, with assistance from Captian Ed Andresen of the Welsh Guards, invites children to help decorate the Clarence House Christmas Tree at Clarence House

Camilla then spoke to the children, telling them: ‘I just wanted to say how thrilled I am that you are able to come here today. Having missed out on last year, as you know I did it on Zoom…but the joy of getting you all back again this year is wonderful. 

‘I didn’t think it was going to happen at times, but thank goodness you all decided to come. I just really wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas and I have got a bit of a star here who would like to sing you a song which he sung to me last year on Zoom brilliantly.’

She then took Nathan Best by the arm and helped him to his feet as he sang and signed ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’, bringing tears to the eyes of the staff.

‘Brilliant!’ said Camilla, before Nathan gave her a bouquet of flowers.

Clare Periton, CEO of Helen & Douglas House, a children’s hospice in Oxfordshire, told the duchess: ‘On behalf of both of the charities we are so pleased to be here. This is something that makes memories for all, our children, is is so very very special. Thank you for your hospitality, your generosity. I think we have all had a dark 18 months and this has been a shining star, so thank you so much.’

Speaking afterward Ms Periton said: ‘I can’t quite believe we are here, I really can’t. Even last night I was thinking ‘is this going to happen?’ And I think having the children be able to come in person has been so special. It is absolutely about making memories for them. This is magical, special and I think something that will sustain them through difficult times for a long time to come.

‘The last 18 months have been so difficult and isolating for these family, really lonely. They have lost a lot of their support networking through shielding. So it was so lovely for them to be with other families who have experienced the same.

‘We have taken every precaution there is to ensure they have a safe as well as happy day.’

Star of the day Nathan said he had ‘loved’ the day, while his parents, Stuart and Jenny Best said it had been a ‘highlight in a difficult year’.

‘It has been a very tough and lonely time. We shielded for nine months and then we all got Covid. We prepared for the worse. But Nathan smashed it. He is such a joy. The hospice offers him respite care and he can’t wait to go and stay there.

‘We can’t thank the duchess enough for inviting us here. It has meant a lot.’

Helen & Douglas House was the world’s first children’s hospice when it opened in 1982 and cares for local terminally ill children and their families from Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties.

They provide medical, emotional and practical support, helping families deal with the implications of living with a child who will die prematurely, so they can make the most of their time together.

Her Royal Highness became Patron of Helen & Douglas House in 2007.

She is also patron of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, which provides specialist nurses and support for seriously ill children.

Its network of 82 Roald Dahl Nurses operate across the UK and they provide expert help and support to over 24,000 children and their families every year.

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