The Duchess of Cornwall reveals her dreams and reads to youngsters at Roald Dahl exhibition

Emily Nash

Ever wondered what the Duchess of Cornwall dreams about at night? You might be surprised to hear it's Red Squirrels, with a hint of Warmth and Happiness and some Nature, Animals or Magic. Camilla, 68, came up with the intriguing combination as she created a "Dream Jar" at an exhibition about the legendary children's author Roald Dahl.

Her imagination may have been fired up by her husband Prince Charles's passion for the woodland creature, which he has long campaigned to protect. After writing "I dreamed about red squirrels" on a slip of paper, she tucked it inside the jar along with some shredded pink paper from a box labelled "Warmth and Happiness" and an orange feather from the Nature, Animals or Magic box.

CLICK TO VIEW FULL GALLERY

><img alt=VIEW GALLERY

The Duchess of Cornwall visited an exhibition about children's author Roald Dahl

She joined children at the Imagine Children’s Festival at London's Southbank Centre, which is also hosting the Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl - an interactive display of the BFG and Matilda writer's letters, notes and other belongings.

Inside, she was shown an old-fashioned schoolroom with vintage wooden desks and joked: "I remember these desks – shows how old I am."

Each desk contains an item such as Dahl's old school report, which described him as a "persistent muddler" but added: "shows possibility". The Duchess saw letters to his mother, signed "Love from Boy", and notes he made as a schoolboy chocolate taster for Cadbury – the inspiration behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

"What a great job!" she said.

The Duchess was joined by Jonathan Slinger, who plays Willy Wonka in the West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Right on cue, the book’s hero Willy Wonka arrived to join the royal party, to the delight of the youngest members, and led them through a dark forest-like room to the Giant Peach, from James and the Giant Peach, which Camilla gamely put her hand into. Pulling it out again she said: "There’s something slimy inside!"

The attraction, which features other favourite stories including Fantastic Mr Fox and The Twits, has been created as part of the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, of which Camilla is Patron.

Back outside, the Duchess, a keen supporter of children’s literacy, then stunned tourists and visitors to the Southbank Centre by taking to the stage to join Charlotte Scott, who was in character as Miss Honey from the stage production of Matilda The Musical.

><img alt=VIEW GALLERY

Camilla read an extract from Roald Dahl's BFG

Putting on her glasses, she then treated the audience to an extract from Chapter 2 of the BFG, which was inspired by the author's granddaughter Sophie Dahl. She was watched by Roald Dahl’s widow Felicity and his grandson Luke Kelly, who manages Dahl’s estate and is Sophie’s half brother.

Speaking after sharing the stage with the Duchess, actress Charlotte told HELLO!: "She has got a lovely reading voice. It was amazing. I kept looking across and remembering sitting on the sofa with my mum watching her and Prince Charles getting married!"

Jonathan Slinger, who plays Willy Wonka in the current West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical, said: "She seemed to really enjoy it and was really warm and engaging."

Judy Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre and founder of the Women of the World Festival, of which Camilla is President, told HELLO!: "She's always amusing, curious and always truly engaged with the kids. She always does something very personal. She loves children and they love her. She creates private time with them.

"She doesn't just use them as a photo opportunity. She talked about her own grandchildren and how she would like to bring them – we might have to smuggle them in."

Camilla, who is a step-grandmother to Prince George and Princess Charlotte, also has five grandchildren through her daughter Laura and son Tom.

More on: