14 DECEMBER 2007

While it's generally understood that, as a senior royal, her husband Prince Charles doesn't carry money, the Duchess of Cornwall clearly prefers to have her funds at hand. The 60-year-old royal whipped out her purse in the name of a good cause this week to make some purchases in a West London charity shop.

Surprised onlookers took pictures on their mobile phones as the high-profile customer bought two glass vases and a thesaurus for £3.50. Accompanying her on the retail outing to an Emmaus store was former Beirut hostage Terry Waite.

Camilla and Terry, who are respectively patron and president of the organisation, which offers a home and a job to help get homeless people back on their feet, then went on to visit a nearby 25-bed Emmaus Community facility.

While visiting the centre, Camilla chatted to residents, volunteers and staff over a cup of tea. "When people meet the Duchess of Cornwall they are very, very pleasantly surprised at how relaxed she is and at how good she is at talking to ordinary people," said Terry of the special visit.

"She has a great interest in people, particularly in those who have experienced difficulties in life such as homelessness."

Photo: ©
The 60-year-old royal dipped into her purse for a good cause, purchasing two glass vases and a thesaurus at the charity shopPhoto: © Rex
Photo: ©
Accompanied by former Beirut hostage Terry Waite, Camilla visited a facility nearby which helps homeless people get back on their feetPhoto: © Rex