Now that Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are fully vaccinated, they’ve ramped up the pace of public engagements, and last week they even went on a royal tour to Greece to join the country’s bicentenary independence celebrations. On Tuesday, Camilla visited a food bank in Lewes, East Sussex, the small town where she was raised. The trip, which also included engagements at a pharmacy and a ride on a commercial passenger train, was her first official return to her hometown since May 2019. Unlike Queen Elizabeth, who went maskless for her first public engagement of 2021 on Wednesday, Camilla wore a yellow dragonfly mask and a surgical mask during her various engagements.
According to the Telegraph, the visit to the Fitzjohn Food Bank highlighted the increased demand for nutrition assistance across the country since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, even in relatively affluent places. “Goodness, I’m very surprised, having lived here all my young life,” Camilla said. “I thought Lewes sounded an unusual place for a food bank, but it just goes to show.”
She also praised volunteers for their work during the height of the pandemic. “I’m so glad I could come and see you all. It’s always a treat to come back to Sussex,” she said during her visit to the food bank, according to the Daily Mail. “Thank you all for the brilliant job you are doing here.”
Born in 1947, Camilla grew up in the Laines, a seven-bedroom Georgian-style home in the village of Plumpton, a few miles outside of Lewes, where she and her two siblings, Annabel and Mark, were raised by their mother Rosalind without nannies. The family owned ponies and dogs and spent time camping, picnicking, and foxhunting. “The odd thing for that sort of family is they were brought up in a completely unsnobbish way,” Camilla’s friend Jane Churchill later told biographer Sally Bedell Smith.
After her arrival in Lewes, she visited a pharmacy to praise its owners for the work they have done over the course of the pandemic, and see some of its warehouse robots in action. “This is an extraordinary place,” she said while looking at the robots installed by the company Britain of Weasel. “It’s like a fairground ride.”
Before boarding the train in London on Wednesday morning, the duchess spoke to domestic violence advocates about an initiative that provides free train tickets to abuse survivors in crisis on the platform at Victoria Station. The initiative was the idea of railroad employee Darren O’Brien, who Camilla praised during the engagement. “This is a brilliant initiative and you should feel very proud of yourself,” she said ‘’It’s amazing during this lockdown how many wonderful ideas have been thought up… We need more Darrens!”
Throughout the pandemic, Camilla has discussed the rise in domestic violence across the country. After she and Charles returned to Clarence House in February, she had a video call with her patronage SafeLives about their new initiative training pharmacy employees to support survivors. “My heart is well and truly in it, so I’d really like to do anything to help all these wonderful people,” she said.
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