The Duchess of Cornwall joked that she was an "ancient fairy godmother," as she recorded a special message from inside a Wendy House in Birkhall, in support of a children's story-writing competition. The heather-thatched house was originally built on the Scottish estate in 1935 for Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret and has been enjoyed by all royal children.
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WATCH: Camilla speaks from inside the Queen's Wendy House at Birkhall
Camilla's message for the 500 Words final was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 as part of the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on Friday. During the show, the 72-year-old royal spoke to Zoe and fellow radio DJ Chris Evans about the tenth anniversary of the competition. The 2020 final was due to take place at Buckingham Palace but this year it has been moved online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the Duchess said she had looked forward to meeting the finalists in person, she praised the wonders of modern technology to enjoy a virtual celebration instead, saying: "Good morning everyone – and a very happy tenth birthday to 500 Words! Just like many of you this year, 500 Words is having to settle for a virtual birthday party, rather than the one we had planned. I was really looking forward to meeting the finalists at Buckingham Palace today. But, thankfully, technology has brought us together across the airwaves – and we will still celebrate as hard as we can."
The Duchess inside Birkhall's Wendy House
Camilla added that she hoped that they would be able to organise a celebration for the competition in person in future: "But just before we get to celebrating, I want to say something a bit serious. The last few months have been very difficult, confusing and worrying for lots of you. Thank you for staying at home, being kind to others and cheering up your family and friends whenever you could. You have been brilliant. And so I want to tell you that Zoe, Chris and I have put our thinking caps on. And the three of us are hoping to plan a giant 500 Words party for when parties are allowed again."
Chris Evans created 500 Words in 2010 and in the past ten years, the competition has received over a million entries from budding writers. Praising the competition, Camilla said: "It hasn’t just got children excited about reading and writing – lots of grown-ups have got very excited too. Including me, the competition's rather ancient Fairy Godmother!"
Charles and Camilla have been residing at Birkhall in Scotland
Making a joke, she said: "Thank you, Chris - and well done! I should really like to pat you on the back in person. As I can't, may I ask whoever is closest to Chris right now to give him a hearty thwack, please?"
In her message, the Duchess said she was "blown away" by the "genius and creativity" with the story entries, adding: "I am certain that amongst you finalists are some of the great writers of the future."
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Zoe, Chris and Camilla at the 2019 final in Windsor
Camilla, who is an avid reader herself, finished by saying: "Let me end by thanking BBC Radio 2 for making the 2020 final – and this tenth birthday - so special and memorable. A huge thank you to Zoe. And thank you, all you young authors who sent in such a wonderful rainbow of stories. Each one of you has brought enthusiasm, originality, and a passion for words to this competition. You have made us laugh, you have made us cry and you have made us hope. Keep safe and well. Always keep reading and keep writing. And that, everyone, is exactly five hundred words."
This is the fifth year that Camilla has supported 500 Words. In 2015, the Duchess hosted the competition final at St James's Palace and since then, she has been an Honorary Judge, also attending the 2016 final at Shakespeare's Globe, the 2017 final at the Tower of London, the 2018 final at Hampton Court Palace and last year's final at Windsor Castle.
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