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Prince Charles and Camilla make rare comment about retirement

The royal couple spoke to staff during a socially distanced visit 

Danielle Stacey

The Duchess of Cornwall, 72, has no plans to retire from her royal duties any time soon as she revealed during her trip to an Asda distribution centre with the Prince of Wales, 71, on Thursday. 

The couple met some of the 700 workers at the Bristol centre to thank them for working throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Staff have worked extra hours and different shift patterns, and had postponed holidays to cope with increased demand throughout the coronavirus crisis.

READ: Inside Prince Charles’ cosy private home in Wales, Llwynywermod

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WATCH: Charles and Camilla visit Asda distribution centre in Bristol 

During the socially distanced visit, which took place in a marquee outside the main building, Charles and Camilla spoke with Richard Sigward, 74, a warehouse operator, who has been working for Asda for 17 years and told the couple that he refuses to retire.

"The Duchess was saying to me she definitely agrees that if people can work and are happy to do it, they should carry on," Mr Sigward said. "She said she refuses to retire herself. The prince was the same."

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The Prince and Duchess spoke to workers 

Chris Tilly, 48, general manager of the distribution centre, said work had been "really, really challenging" and paid tribute to staff.

"We've had a lot of support from colleagues right across the business working extra hours, extra shifts to keep the shelves filled for customers," Mr Tilly said.

"I think it is fantastic that the Prince and Duchess have taken the time out to come to the distribution centre and meet colleagues. Every single colleague that they saw they thanked for what they had done during the last 14 weeks, which I was truly humbled by.

"They were really interested in what the colleagues did within Asda, how long they had worked for us and just wanted to know how they had been doing while working through the pandemic."

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The royal couple also learned about Asda's work to support its charity partners

Charles and Camilla also learned about the retailer's support to charity partners FareShare (a charity fighting hunger and food waste) and the Trussell Trust (who run a network of food banks). At the start of the pandemic Asda donated £5m of funding for logistics and essential services, in addition to their existing food donation programme. 

This vital funding has helped FareShare get vans on the road, supporting 336,000 people and helped 230 food banks in the Trussell Trust network set up e-referral systems so vulnerable families can be referred for a food parcel either online or over the phone.

The Prince and the Duchess unveiled a plaque to mark their visit and before departing, Charles told staff: "Thank you, thank you very much everybody. You deserve a stiff drink after all this."

Later in the day, Charles and Camilla also visited the Turnbull & Asser shirt factory in Gloucester to meet staff members, who during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, switched their entire production line to make scrubs for the NHS.  

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