The Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Cambridge have been familiar faces on video calls since the coronavirus pandemic began. And now Kate and Camilla have joined forces for a rare joint virtual engagement to mark this year’s Children’s Hospice Week (June 22 to 26 in the UK).
“Their Royal Highnesses wanted to thank all those involved in and supporting children’s hospices across the UK during this critical time,” Clarence House said in a statement.
The royal duo, who have both been supporters of the work children's hospices do for many years, hosted a video call with representatives from three of their patronages. Children’s Hospice South West and Helen & Douglas House are two organizations Camilla has been patron of since 2014 and 2007 respectively. And Kate became patron of East Anglia Children’s Hospices (EACH) in early 2012, just a few months after joining the royal family.
“Thank you all for zooming in,” Camilla began the call by saying, before describing how she felt on her first visit to a children’s hospice. “I have to admit I was filled with a certain amount of trepidation,” she said, “because I wasn’t sure what I was going to find. When I arrived I was totally amazed by what I found, the feeling of warmth and laughter and happiness.” She also described the nurses and carers as the “most wonderful people.”
For her part, Kate described the work of children’s hospices as “extraordinary” and “awe-inspiring.”
The royals listened as the Delf family, who lost 9-year-old Fraser earlier this year, shared their experience of coping with grief in the lockdown. Fraser’s mother Carla described “Up and down days,” saying: “I think we’ve found it extremely hard through this lockdown, not being able to have our family and our friends. Because it’s not the same doing it via Zoom calling.”
She also praised the help they received from EACH, describing the staff as “amazing people.” Fraser’s brother Stuie, 13, has been fundraising for the charity in Fraser’s memory, running 5 km every day after being inspired by Captain Tom Moore’s fundraising efforts.
Eddie Farwell, founder of Children’s Hospice South West, also shared on the call how the pandemic had “absolutely” provided extra challenges for families accessing the services. “We’ve had to be very agile on our feet in terms of responding to the changing needs of families,” he said. “Most of our families are shielding very vulnerable people.” Eddie founded the hospice with his late wife after receiving hospice care for their two children Kate and Tom, who died age 11 and 15 respectively.
The video call took place last Wednesday and is the first time Camilla and Kate have carried out a joint virtual engagement during the pandemic. Kate has previously teamed up with Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, to speak to nurses from around the world.
The royal family is beginning to return to in-person engagements, albeit with a very different feel to normal times, with several family members making socially-distanced visits last week. Prince Charles and Camilla left Birkhall in Scotland and traveled to London where they welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron to Clarence House last Thursday. Prince William and Kate showed their support for British businesses by making visits near to their Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, where the family has been spending the lockdown.
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