For many years, Camilla has invited children helped by charities she supports to Clarence House to decorate the Christmas tree. And, despite her elevated role as Queen Consort, this year was no exception as families joined her today for a joyful festive party.

The Queen Consort hosted 11 children and their families and carers for some festive cheer complete with Father Christmas, reindeer, and even a royal equerry on hand to help decorate the tree with his sword. The families are supported by the charity Helen & Douglas House, which Camilla has been Patron of since 2007 and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, which she has been affiliated with since 2017.

Dressed in bright red, Camilla arrived at midday to be greeted by Father Christmas as the band of the Welsh Guards played festive songs. An aide said that she had chosen for the event to remain at Clarence House this year despite the fact that as Queen Consort she now hosts some gatherings at Buckingham Palace. Her delight a being host was clear as she walked around to greet everyone asking “Everybody’s got everything?” and, “Are you enjoying yourselves?”

the queen consort invites children to decorate the clarence house christmas tree
Camilla, the Queen Consort, meets Blixen the reindeer at Clarence House.
WPA Pool // Getty Images

“To come here in the first few months of her being Queen, it just shows how she values her patronage to us and she cares about the children and the families who use the services,” Clare Periton, chief executive of Helen & Douglas House told T&C . “It’s a place where the families will make memories that they will never forget and the children are treated like princesses and princes and it’s just such a special time. Everyone is accepted no matter what their disability is or what their condition is or what their abilities are. I think for families as well it’s an opportunity that is invaluable.”

Camilla greeted the families in the Morning Room before helping the children decorate the tree in the Library. Her equerry Ed Andersen placed decorations high up with his ceremonial sword as the children selected them from a table to hang on the tree. Mother Kieri Dainty from Oxfordshire, who was a guest along with her eight-year-old daughter Gwendolyn, described the day as being “amazing.” “It’s lovely that she’s still doing all the charity work,” she said of Camilla. “What was important before is still important now.”

The children sat around a table in the dining room and were served food which catered to their varied dietary requirements but was largely a variation on sausages and mash. “It’s always a treat for me to start Christmases here, it literally kicks it off for us,” the Queen Consort said in a speech after they had eaten and she was presented with flowers.

the queen consort invites children to decorate the clarence house christmas tree
Camilla helping Santa to decorate the tree at Clarence House.
WPA Pool // Getty Images

But the real surprise for the children was waiting outside where two reindeer were in the garden of the royal residence. Despite all the excitement, Dancer and Blitzen stayed calm as the children fed them and posed for photographs. “It’s an incredible event, for me it’s the start of Christmas,” Chief Executive of of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children's Charity, Louise Griew, told T&C. “ For the families it’s a chance to make really special memories…We’ve got really good plans over the next five to ten years to help thousands more children. So having her involved with the charity is instrumental and it really does help us, and this event particularly.”

Also at the party representing Roald Dahl’s charity was his widow Felicity Dahl, who described it as “one of the most delightful events that anybody could be privileged to come to.” “I think our Queen has done it for so many years now. For the parents of these children it must be wonderful and I just think it’s just charming,” she said. “I just wish my husband was here because you know his passion was medicine. If he hadn’t been a writer he’d have been a doctor…I think nurses are the most important people in the medical world. You cannot get better without a nurse…a Roald Dahl nurse is the tops, it really is.”

the queen consort invites children to decorate the clarence house christmas tree
Another snap of Camilla with Blixen the reindeer.
WPA Pool // Getty Images

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity provide specialist nurses and support to seriously ill children with complex health conditions, currently helping more than 25,000 children.

Helen House was the world's first children's hospice when it opened in 1982, and this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Helen & Douglas House cares for terminally ill children and their families from Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties. They provide medical, emotional and practical support so families can make the most of their time together.

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