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Duchess of Cornwall reveals her unusual cake recipe is a big hit with her grandchildren

Camilla joined Gyles Brandreth's Poetry Together initiative in London

duchess of cornwall cake poetry together
Emily Nash
Emily NashRoyal EditorLondon
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The Duchess of Cornwall revealed her unusual recipe for a Victoria Sponge cake has been a big hit with her grandchildren. 

Camilla, 74, joined schoolchildren and care home residents at broadcaster Gyles Brandreth's Poetry Together initiative in London on Wednesday. 

The Duchess met two pupils from Broadwater Primary School in Tooting, south London, and two Chelsea Pensioners as they cut a pair of Victoria Sponges – one made with a traditional layer of jam and cream and another using her own recipe, which uses Nutella instead.

In September the Duchess shared her recipe for the tea parties, which are taking place in person this year for the first time since the pandemic began.

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WATCH: Duchess of Cornwall attends a Poetry Together tea party

"She has changed the face of the Victoria Sponge forever," joked Gyles, referring to the version with chocolate spread. "She said, 'If you don't mind, I think the children, going by my grandchildren, will like the Nutella.'"

The Duchess also told youngsters from Whitehill Primary School she enjoyed the cake with hot chocolate.

Camilla smiled as Gyles introduced her to pupils and care home residents attending the poetry recital and tea party. 

He told guests at the Royal Geographical Society: "We're thrilled that she's here. She is somebody, who for you young people, this is living history.

"As you leave here today you will pass the Albert Memorial, which celebrates the consort of Queen Victoria…The consort of the Prince of Wales is the Duchess of Cornwall, so you are meeting, as it were, living history. Happily for us, she is alive and well!

"Very happily for us, she is someone who really cares about words and language, the power of reading, the importance of reading for us to be able to communicate with one other, for us to live fuller and richer lives. She does everything she can to encourage people who can't yet read to find out how to read and to enjoy words and language."

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camilla gyles brandeth 2© Photo: Alamy

One of the cakes was made with the Duchess' recipe

The Duchess then enjoyed a series of poems performed by children and older people as part of the Poetry Together scheme, which aims to bring young and old together to recite the same poem together before sitting down to enjoy tea and cake.

There was a poignant performance from Year 6 pupils at Whitehill Primary School in Hitchin, Herts, who chose a piece by local poet John Gohorry, whose daughter Clare Bailey, is their teacher.

John had been due to perform it with the children, but sadly died, aged 78, on 17 October. Instead, Clare read his part in his poem I Met An Old Man By The Sea alongside the children.

Presenting the group with a certificate for taking part afterwards, Camilla told her: "Thank you very much, I'm sure your dad would be very proud."

Clare said later: "It was really important to be able to do his poem. The kids were so lovely and supportive and kind about it. It was very bittersweet. Everything about this, my dad would have loved."

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camilla gyles brandeth

The Duchess joined Gyles Brandeth at the event

The Duchess appeared amused by a poem called The Queen, written and performed by pupils from Knightsbridge School and applauded as they concluded: "What a woman, so strong, beautiful – the best by far."

Chelsea Pensioner Roy Palmer performed a poem about protecting the planet, while children from The Lyceum School in the City of London recited the Remembrance poems Why Wear a Poppy? by Don Crawford and In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae.

Camilla appeared deeply moved by pupils from St Vincent's School in Liverpool, a specialist school for sensory impaired children, who performed What Colour Is The Wind by Charlie Landsborough, reading from braille they had typed themselves.

She told them afterwards: "Thank you very much, I very much enjoyed it – I thought you all did brilliantly. You got up very early, was it all worth it?

"It was lovely for us, so thank you for doing it all. It's brilliant how you do it in braille, I was watching you doing it. I will have to learn one day."

The pupils, who got up at 4am to travel to London, presented her with some wildflower seeds from plants they had grown and harvested themselves and had presented at Cop26 last week.

Emily Garner, 16, said: "I feel quite privileged to be here today and to meet the Duchess. At the beginning I was quite nervous but afterwards I felt very proud of myself and my peers that we performed the poem and that we worked together to make sure it was well presented."

Dr John Patterson, Prinicpal, said: "They were thrilled to be included. If you look at the statistics, it's 85 per cent unemployment for the visually impaired and on average five to six less friends, so thank you for including us, because it does matter.

"This was super special for them, their friends are back in school dying to hear from them, it encourages everybody."

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duchess camilla poetry together© Photo: Getty Images

Camilla listening to a poetry recital by a Chelsea Pensioner

Gyles Brandreth said later that the Duchess had been particularly moved by their performance, saying: "She said, 'That is my take home from today, someone reading in braille'.

"The Duchess has been a supporter of Poetry Together right from the beginning. She's got quite a lot of poetry in her head and she said as she was leaving, 'maybe I should start doing one [learning a poem] again'."

Gyles launched Poetry Together in partnership with Dukes Education and National Poetry Day and some 400 schools and care homes have signed up so far.

It has also been adopted overseas in countries including Nigeria, China, the United States, Slovakia, Romania, Greece and Russia.

Aatif Hassan, founder of Dukes Education said of the event: "What fun, joy and celebration of something which is extraordinarily important to all of us, which is poetry. It is a wonderful opportunity for young and old to come together and recognise something that is so precious and has so much benefit to us and to society."

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