Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall says not hugging grandchildren is hardest part of self-isolation

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
The Duchess of Rothesay at her desk in Birkhall at Balmoral. (PA)

The Duchess of Cornwall has said the hardest part of self-isolation is not being able to hug her grandchildren, as she was reunited with her husband after 14 days on her own.

Camilla had to self-isolate for two weeks after Prince Charles tested positive for COVID-19.

Despite her own test returning negative, she followed government guidelines to protect herself from catching the disease.

On Monday, the 72-year-old left her room at Birkhall, in Balmoral, Aberdeenshire, and wasted no time in getting back to work.

Camilla, who is known as the Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, thanked the 750,000 NHS volunteers who have signed up to support the health service by taking shopping and essentials to vulnerable people or by calling those who are isolated.

And she called an isolated elderly person herself, having a conversation with Doris Winfield, 85, from Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, who has spent the last two weeks self-isolating.

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Charles and Camilla had to self-isolate after Charles tested positive for the virus. (Getty Images)

Winfield has three daughters and is able to speak to them regularly, but said she misses the active social life she used to enjoy, and lives on her own.

Clarence House said she and the duchess spoke about the difficulties of being separated from family, with Camilla admitting missing hugging her grandchildren.

Camilla has five grandchildren from her first marriage to Andrew Parker-Bowles. Her son Tom has two children and her daughter Laura has three.

She and Winfield said the ability to keep up with family digitally helped, and discussed their shared love of Agatha Christie novels.

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Winfield said the chat with Camilla “meant the world to me”, adding: “I’ve been incredibly lonely over the last couple of weeks and it was wonderful to talk to her.

“We talked about life in isolation and shared hobbies, she was very interested in my family and how I was coping without them. It’s really cheered me up.”

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Camilla’s phone call drew attention to one element of the NHS volunteer service, which will help those who are having to self-isolate to protect themselves from COVID-19.

It could include those over 70, or those who live alone and are in the vulnerable category because of an underlying health condition.

Volunteers will be offered tasks from Tuesday on the GoodSAM app, and will be able to list themselves as ‘on duty’ to carry out jobs.

Camilla, president of the Royal Voluntary Service, said: “As the proud president of the Royal Voluntary Service, I wanted to send my warmest thanks to all the NHS volunteer responders who have come forward in unprecedented numbers to offer help to the NHS.

“Royal Voluntary Service has been working with the NHS to recruit people in England who can assist those who are most in need of practical and emotional support at this time.

“Thankfully, the charity has a long and remarkable history of bringing willing volunteers together with the isolated and lonely.

“That experience is needed more than ever in these challenging times.

“And today many more NHS volunteer responders will get in touch with the people they have so kindly offered to help.

“Everyone working in the NHS is under unimaginable pressure day and night in this crisis.

“I feel sure that the presence of so many wonderful volunteers will encourage, as well as support, them.

“I salute each one of you – and thank you with all my heart.”

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Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “I want to thank every single person who signed up to be an NHS volunteer responder – their incredible generosity means we can now start helping those most in need across our communities and, in turn, support our heroic NHS staff and social care staff as they continue their outstanding work.

“Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our country has faced, and it is truly awe-inspiring to see our whole nation coming together to help each other at this difficult time.”