The Duchess of Cornwall revealed she misses not being able to see her grandchildren during the coronavirus lockdown, as she took part in a call with 90-year-old Betty from Hampshire.
Camilla, 72, spoke to the regular Silver Line user along with Dame Esther Rantzen, from her Scottish home, Birkhall. The Duchess, who has been patron of the Silver Line since 2017, spoke with Dame Esther and Betty about a number of different topics, including how difficult it was being separated from family and what it was like during the war.
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The Duchess has five grandchildren of her own, who she shares with her former husband, Andrew Parker Bowles. Their son Tom Parker Bowles and his wife, Sara Buys, have daughter Lola and son Freddy, born in 2007 and 2010 respectively. Camilla and Andrew's daughter, Laura Lopes, has three children with husband Harry – daughter Eliza, born in 2008, and twin boys, Gus and Louis, who arrived the following year.
Camilla commented: "I really miss my grandchildren. That’s the really strange thing about it, not being able to see your grandchildren and giving them a hug."
The Duchess first spoke to Betty in 2017 when she visited the Silver Line helpline in Blackpool. Betty has written to the Duchess over the years, most recently after Camilla visited Auschwitz earlier in January.
Betty commented that during the war, she had worked quite close to where VE Day was planned. The Duchess said: "It's going to be a very strange VE Day this year. We won't be able to do anything in person with veterans, which is so sad. You just hate missing a year, because those times mean so much."
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Camilla speaks to Betty (left) and Dame Esther (right) during the call
The Duchess went on to say: "It's so important that people share their memories of the war. I think that the people who lived through it have extra strength for the situation we are in now. Just like during the war, this situation brings the best out of people. You hear such wonderful stories of people helping others. Your generation was always very modest about these things. We will never see the like of your generation again. People were always thinking about others, and about duty and service and respect and manners. Those are the things I associate with your generation, Betty."
“My father was a soldier in the war and we could never get him to talk about it. But when the grandchildren came along, he started talking about it and we got him to write a small book about it. I think it was a huge load off his mind to be able to tell people about it."
The Duchess ended the call by saying: "Stay safe everyone and see you when this is all over."
Camilla's granddaughter, Eliza Lopes, was one of William and Kate's bridesmaids
Speaking about her patronage and her call with Betty, Camilla said: "For many lonely people, the Silver Line represents a lifeline into the outside world. As its proud Patron I am thinking about all the Silver Liners, the staff and the volunteers in these challenging times. Once again it was a huge pleasure to talk to Betty, as I always find her indomitable spirit truly inspiring. We both agreed that we must all keep picking up the telephone, keep sharing our thoughts and keep making friends...it is these little things that help get us all through these dark days and find light at the end of them."
The Silver Line is the only 24-hours-a-day free and confidential helpline which offers information, friendship and advice to older people. The Silver Line also offers telephone and letter based befriending by volunteers known as 'Silver Line Friends'.
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