19 DECEMBER 2007

Decorating a nine-foot fir tree is no mean feat. But the Duchess of Cornwall made light work of the festive chore after calling in some special helpers to put the finishing touches to the adornments at Clarence House.

On Tuesday, 12 excited children and adults from the Helen and Douglas House Hospice in Oxfordshire joined the smiling royal for the seasonal treat at the official London residence she shares with her husband, the Prince of Wales.

Camilla's guests were welcomed to the tea party by a Welsh Guard captain, smartly decked out in a red gold trimmed uniform and bearskin hat.

Among those hanging baubles in the Clarence House library was ten-year-old Ross Pike, a muscular dystroyphy sufferer, who described meeting the Duchess as "very nice".

As a thank you the group presented Prince Charles' wife with a teddy bear - which their hostess said she would give to her two-month-old granddaughter, Lola, her son Tom Parker Bowles' child.

Photo: ©
The Duchess' young guests were thrilled to meet a red uniformed soldier at the door of the Clarence House libraryPhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Adults like 30-year-old kidney transplant patient Ingrid Warren weren't immune to the festive excitementPhoto: © Getty Images