TV GOES IN SEARCH OF THE REAL CAMILLA

A one-off doc­u­men­tary screen­ing on TVNZ 1 this week fol­lows a year in the life of the Duchess of Corn­wall. James Ramp­ton re­ports.

The TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

Cov­er­age of the Bri­tish royal fam­ily has gone into over­drive this year, par­tic­u­larly with the wed­ding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. This week there is still more to come with a be­hind-the-scenes in­sight into the Duchess of Corn­wall, fea­tur­ing a year in her life. In The Real Camilla, a new Bri­tish doc­u­men­tary, cam­eras fol­low the 70-year-old Duchess as she read­ies her­self for her role as Queen Con­sort. What emerges is a pic­ture of a woman with a good sense of hu­mour and a knack for re­lat­ing to peo­ple. She also re­veals her­self as a dot­ing grand­mother. Camilla is at her most con­tent when in the com­pany of her five grand­chil­dren and step-grand­chil­dren – Prince Ge­orge, Princess Char­lotte and Prince Louis. Talk­ing about be­ing a grand­mother, she says, “I’d rec­om­mend it to ev­ery­body. It’s very nice as you haven’t got the full re­spon­si­bil­ity. You can give them a won­der­ful time, spoil them, give them all the things their par­ents won’t al­low them to have and then give them back again. They spot me oc­ca­sion­ally on tele­vi­sion. They rather tend to wave and they ex­pect me to wave back again.” Her nephew Ben El­liot says that, “Camilla’s mag­nif­i­cent with her grand­chil­dren. She’s called Gan Gan. She spends a lot of time – when she’s not do­ing her job – with her chil­dren and their chil­dren.” The Real Camilla fea­tures in­ter­views with friends such as Joanna Lum­ley, Gil­lian An­der­son, and Giles Bran­dreth

(who main­tains that she, “Isn’t in­ter­ested in po­si­tion or sta­tus”), as well show­ing her dec­o­rat­ing the Christ­mas tree at her of­fi­cial home, Clarence House.

There are also scenes of the Duchess tak­ing her two Jack Rus­sell dogs for a walk in the grounds of Dum­fries House in Scot­land. The 18th-cen­tury stately home was res­cued af­ter a suc­cess­ful cam­paign to raise $90 mil­lion by a group of char­i­ties led by the Prince of Wales.

The Duchess ad­mits that at first she did not fall in love with Dum­fries House – in fact, it pos­i­tively spooked her.

“If you could have seen it when the Prince first spot­ted it, you wouldn’t have be­lieved it was the same house. It was so sad, un-lived in, unloved and ne­glected. And it had a re­ally eerie feel about it.

“There was def­i­nitely a ghost – with­out a shadow of a doubt. I walked up the steps, got into the hall and I thought, ‘I can’t go any fur­ther’. I lit­er­ally froze.

“If my hair could have stood on end, it would have done. I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘I don’t want to come back’, and I didn’t for a few years.”

When at last Camilla did go back to Dum­fries House af­ter the re­fur­bish­ment, she felt a lot more com­fort­able there.

“I walked in and what­ever was there had dis­ap­peared. The whole thing seemed to be smil­ing again.”

In ad­di­tion, The Real Camilla fo­cuses on the Duchess’ char­i­ta­ble in­ter­ests. She works for 90 char­i­ties and it is here that we re­ally get to see the Duchess’ abil­ity to con­nect with peo­ple.

The Prince of Wales says they al­ways try to co-or­di­nate their char­i­ta­ble vis­its.

Ac­cord­ing to Prince Charles, “My dar­ling wife has been ab­so­lutely won­der­ful with all these char­i­ties and takes a huge in­ter­est.

“She does have a won­der­ful way with peo­ple. That’s the spe­cial thing, I think. She’s the best lis­tener in the world, so she can get any­thing out of any­body and find out their life’s his­tory in a very short time.”

Fur­ther ev­i­dence of her abil­ity to iden­tify with oth­ers is shown when she in­vites oc­to­ge­nar­ian sib­lings Ge­orge, Mary and Alice Dowling to tea at Clarence House. They had coura­geously con­fronted masked rob­bers twice in a week, and the Duchess of Corn­wall proves un­der­stand­ing about their or­deal.

When Alice, 83, the youngest of the three, dis­closes that she punched one of the bur­glars, Camilla smiles and says, “Quite right. You gave as good as you got.”

We also wit­ness some of Camilla’s other tal­ents on a trip to Florence. When a school­child asks her to sketch some­thing, she does a swift and im­pres­sive draw­ing of a horse. She then adds that it is very hard to do, “With­out my glasses”.

Camilla, Duchess of Corn­wall (left) with the royal fam­ily

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