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The surprising start to the Duchess of Cornwall's London engagement revealed - best photos

Camilla visited the National Gallery and Boots Piccadilly store on Tuesday

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon
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camilla outfit london© Photo: Getty Images

The Duchess of Cornwall carried out her first engagements in central London on Tuesday as she visited the National Gallery and Boots Piccadilly Store. Camilla, 73, wore a denim dress and a printed face mask. By way of a change, according to royal photographer, Chris Jackson, the Duchess chose to walk from her nearby London residence Clarence House to her engagements, instead of opting for her chauffeured car.

READ: Duchess Camilla debuts face mask to match her royal outfit – and looks incredible

WATCH: Duchess Camilla visits the National Gallery and Boots Piccadilly. 

camilla mask© Photo: Getty Images

Looking elegant as always, Camilla chose to wear her chic denim dress and her pretty Liberty print face covering, which was designed by Fiona Claire. She also carried her favourite summer straw bag from Heidi Klein.

MORE: Where to get a stylish face mask during the coronavirus crisis

camilla gallery© Photo: Getty Images

During the socially distanced visit, the Duchess viewed the recently renovated Room 32 within the National Gallery, which opened its doors to the public again at the beginning of July. 

camilla gallery staff© Photo: Getty Images

After an unprecedented 111 days with its doors closed, the National Gallery started welcoming visitors again on Wednesday 8 July – the first major national art museum to reopen in the UK after the Covid-19 shutdown. 

Camilla complied with the gallery's new rules for her indoor engagement, as she spoke with the gallery's staff.  

All staff at the tourist attraction in Trafalgar Square now wear face coverings and it is recommended that all visitors do the same.

camilla painting© Photo: Getty Images

During her visit to the National Gallery, the Duchess was shown the restored equestrian portrait of Charles I by Anthony van Dyck, which has not been on display for two years.

Larry Keith, head of conservation, told her how the discoloured varnish was removed, and the painting relined and given a new frame.

"It’s incredible," she said. "The light is so wonderful."

camilla gallery room© Photo: Getty Images

Camilla told the Gallery's chair Lord Hall, who was wearing a clear visor, and gathered staff: "You're the first gallery to open.

"I think it's brilliant. Hopefully it's going to inspire a lot of others to follow you on."

She added later of her husband Charles, who is the National Gallery's patron: "He loves coming here, he absolutely loves it."

She prompted laughter as she pointed at her fabric mask and added: "If anybody can hear me through this... Anyway congratulations to all of you."

camilla boots© Photo: Getty Images

Camilla's next stop was to Boots Piccadilly store to hear about their support of the charity Hestia's Safe Spaces programme for victims of domestic violence, and receive an update on the Wash Bag project. 

Launched by the Duchess in 2017, the Wash Bag Project donates a wash bag of toiletries to Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) clients, who have undergone a forensic examination, to provide some comfort at a sensitive time. In June, Boots delivered 3,993 wash bags.

camilla hestia boots© Photo: Getty Images

The Duchess spoke to Lyndsey Dearlove, 39, and Patrick Ryan, 56, from the charity Hestia, who told the royal how the initiative is helping those who have been affected by domestic violence, especially during the lockdown period. 

Hestia CEO Ryan said: "One of the things is that we have begun to talk more about domestic abuse as we've seen the calls rise so significantly during the pandemic. Providing additional refuge spaces and helping more in safe spaces like here in Boots has been so important. It's now a public conversation rather than a private humiliation."

Lyndsey told Camilla: "It's the pharmacists who have supported this to offer the safe spaces that are so vital."

The Duchess, who recently became patron of domestic abuse charity SafeLives, said: "Thank you so much for all the work you do. It's so important to have your help and we definitely have to talk about [domestic violence] more. We must break the shroud of silence."

camilla boots pharmacists© Photo: Getty Images

Before departing, the Duchess told staff and pharmacists at the Boots store: "Thank you for working so hard during this lockdown, your efforts have saved many lives."

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