Camilla welcomes children to Clarence House to help decorate her tree

Merry Christmas from Camilla! Duchess of Cornwall welcomes children to Clarence House to help decorate her tree – and surprises them with REAL reindeer

  • The Duchess of Cornwall invited families to decorate the Clarence House tree 
  • Event is held annually in aid Helen & Douglas House and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity which supports families with terminally ill children 
  • Camilla was the perfect hostess passing out plates of food to her guests 
  • After giving out goodie bags she surprised the children with two real reindeer 

The Duchess of Cornwall invited a group of sick and terminally ill children into Clarence House today for an afternoon of festive fun they will never forget.

There was sausages and mash made into smiley faces, tree decorating – and even Father Christmas spared two of his reindeer, Dancer and Blitzen, for the children (and Camilla) to stroke.

Spotting the reindeer from Randwick Reindeer, nine-year-old Lara Mehmet, shouted: ‘It’s a reindeer! A serious reindeer!’

‘It’s a very serious reindeer,’ laughed Camilla.

Lara, who was joined by mum Semar and her Roald Dahl nurse Anna Jewitt, has an undiagnosed condition and is under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

She is one of four disabled actors playing the character of Tiny Tim in this year’s production of A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic Theatre.   

Camilla welcomed young children, and a couple of reindeer, to Clarence House on Thursday for her annual tree decorating celebration 

The fun was part of an annual event that the duchess throws for the children of Helen & Douglas House, the world’s first children’s hospice in Oxfordshire, which provides medical, emotional and practical support for seriously ill children and their families.

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Youngsters helped by Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity were also in attendance with Camilla patron of both organisations.

The children and their families were invited to her official London home to meet the Duchess before being asked to help her decorate a Christmas tree with brightly coloured ornaments.

There was time for a fabulous lunch served by Camilla herself, dressed in black and white  Bruce Oldfield, and her team with squash, gingerbread cookies and cakes.

Among the guests were Darre Downey, ten, and his mother, Kerrie, who flew over from Belfast.

One little girl, Lara (pictured), held the duchess’s hand and looked at the animals in wonder with Camilla referring to them as ‘serious’ reindeer 

The Duchess of Cornwall beams with delight as she accompanies a youngster to feed the animals outside her home 

The royal invites a group of sick and terminally ill children into her home for an afternoon of festive fun every year

Darre’s mother explained that he suffered a brain tumour and stroke two years ago and was receiving care and support from Roald Dahl.

‘It’s just such a wonderful event,’ she said.

Tyler Standing, six, from Brighton, was with his parents, Jane and David. He was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.

Although a chatterbox normally, he completely clammed up on meeting Prince Charles’s wife.

Jane explained later that his diagnosis, at the age of three, had come out of the blue and had been very hard to deal with, but for Tyler’s sake they simply tried to get on with life and ‘accept the inevitable’

Camilla was the perfect hostess as she served sausage and mash to children during the lunch

The sausage and mash had been lovingly shaped into a smiley face much to the delight of the royal’s young guests 

They said: ‘A friend wrote to the Duchess and asked of Tyler could come and because she has an association with the charity that helps us, she said yes. We cannot thank her enough, it has been a magical experience. We can’t believe we are here. ‘

Jasper Grannum, of Chalfont St Giles, was thrilled when Camilla offered him a second helping of his favourite sausage and mash.

‘She’s a beautiful lady,’ he said, beaming. Asked if she was his new best friend, he added: ‘Probably.’

The 12-year-old Chelsea FC fan suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting condition, which has left him confined to a wheelchair since last year.

Mum Nicola said: ‘He was diagnosed when he was two and lost the ability to walk when he was 11. He loves his sports and used to play football, but now he plays wheelchair football.’

Jasper goes to Helen and Douglas House hospice for respite care, giving his family, including a nine-year-old sister, a break from 24-hour care.

The children assembled to help Camilla decorate the tree in Clarence House as they do every year. Pictured: Lara Mehmet with Camilla 

A member of the Queen’s guard stopped by and was on hand to help young Lara try on his bearskin 

‘He has been going for two or three years now and he loves it. The nurses there are incredible,’ said Nicola. ‘The Duchess has been so lovely, she’s a very warm person. Jasper has been really looking forward to coming and it’s been wonderful.’

The Duchess also invited the youngsters to try on a bearskin worn by assistant equerry Jack Farmelo, of 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards.

Alexander Harvey, 10, of Northampton, was joined by mum Elizabeth and grandmother Valerie Bignell, after being invited through Helen and Douglas House.

‘It means everything to be here today,’ said Elizabeth. ‘We have been so looking forward to it. She’s (Camilla) such a lovely lady.’ 

After the lunch the duchess handed out goodie bags and told the children and their parents: ‘I hope you’ve all enjoyed your lunch today. 

‘I’ve got a surprise for you all outside, but before we go out I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas. The tree decorating for me is always the start of Christmas.’

The duchess is patron of Helen & Douglas House, which helps families cope with the challenges of looking after a terminally ill baby, child or young adult who will die prematurely.

Camilla took up her role in 2007 and this will be the eighth time that families supported by the charity, along with hospice staff, have been invited to decorate the Clarence House Christmas tree.

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity was founded more than 25 years ago by Felicity Dahl in memory of the determination of her husband Roald Dahl, the famous children’s author, to improve the lives of those around him.

The charity provides specialist nurses for a range of conditions to ensure all seriously ill children and their families receive the support they need and deserve.

Working in tandem with the NHS, the charity has now funded 58 specialist nursing posts around the UK, helping more than 12,000 seriously ill children and their families each year.


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