The Duchess of Cornwall has hosted her annual Christmas tree-decorating gathering for seriously-ill children at Clarence House.
Camilla was joined by youngsters and families supported by Helen & Douglas House and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity at her London home on Wednesday.
She spoke of how the “joy of getting you all back again this year is wonderful”.
The duchess told her guests: “I didn’t think it was going to happen. It was up and down but thank goodness you all decided to come.”
She added: “I just really wanted to wish you all a very, very happy Christmas.”
Royal equerry Ed Andersen of the Welsh Guards, in his red tunic, carefully helped place a decoration on the tree using his sword, and also let some of the youngsters try on his bearskin hat.
The duchess has held her Yuletide gathering for 15 years but was bitterly disappointed to be forced to do it virtually last December due to Covid restrictions.
“It wasn’t the same without you,” she said as the doors opened and the youngsters came in one by one.
Capt Andersen invited 10-year-old Nathan Best from Banbury, Oxfordshire, to pick a decoration, before putting it on his sword and placing it on the tree.
Camilla said: “This is Ed here. He’s going to help you decorate the tree. And if you ask really nicely, he might let you try on his bearskin.”
Nathan, who has Prader-Willi syndrome and other complex medical disorders, was later invited to sing and sign a solo We Wish You A Merry Christmas after he performed the tune for the duchess on Zoom last year.
“It has been a very tough and lonely time. We shielded for nine months and then we all got Covid,” they said.
“We prepared for the worst. 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.”
Oscar Richards, seven, who has severe epilepsy, shyly asked to try on Capt Andresen’s bearskin.
Ahuoyiza Okino, 10, who has sickle cell disease and was with her Roald Dahl nurse, Elizabeth Joshua-John, asked to use Capt Andersen’s sword herself.
The duchess accompanied her to the tree, saying: “Oooh, careful, there you go.”
Helen & Douglas House helps families cope with the challenges of looking after a terminally-ill baby or child, while Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity provides specialist nurses and support for seriously-ill children living with complex, lifelong conditions.
Camilla is patron of both organisations.