A Duchess and her dogs: Beth & Ernie steal the show at Battersea with Camilla

Royal Jack Russell, Beth, stole the show at an engagement with The Duchess of Cornwall on Wednesday, when she helped to unveil a plaque at Battersea’s Old Windsor branch.

Camilla, accompanied by her rescue pooch Beth, was greeted on arrival by the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux and the Battersea Board. Battersea dogs arranged in a ‘Guard of Honour’ lined the Duchess’ approach to the building.

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The Duchess of Cornwall was at the rescue centre in Windsor to open new kennels named after her, and also to thank staff for their work. Her last visit to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Old Windsor came in February 2017, when the Royal was announced as the charity’s Patron.

You might remember Beth and Bluebell, Camilla’s dogs featured in Prince Charles and Camilla’s 15th wedding anniversary photo at Birkhall, near to Balmoral. Both were adopted from Battersea, in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

First on the agenda was a tour of the new facilities, where Camilla – wearing an appropriate paw-print mask, and dog brooch – got the chance to meet dogs and handlers in the kennels, puppy paddock and maternity unit.

The new Duchess of Cornwall kennels use sensory plants and music to try and reduce stress and infections for mothers and puppies. They include four heated blocks, each with a chill-out room, dedicated puppy kennels and a separate maternity area.

This year, the organisation also introduced virtual puppy training classes, offering weekly sessions on obedience basics, via video call. In the puppy paddock, 11-week-old pug puppy Ernie, showed off some of his new moves to the Duchess.

He seemed to take a shine to the royal visitor. “Can I have him?” she asked. “Well I might have to take him home, he might just go in my pocket, or in the car with Bluebell.”

Bluebell was due to join her for the visit, but had recently hurt her leg and was waiting in the car.

The Duchess of Cornwall with Ernie the pug puppy (@ClarenceHouse)

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Anya the Chihuahua, 15, met the Duchess after being rehomed by Battersea five years ago. Camilla said: “Ah, she is so very sweet. Has she got a happy home?”

“Very happy,” the handler told her.

“Good, I like the happy stories” said the Royal. “I must say this is a very smart new place, with everything a dog might need, air-conditioning, everything.”

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This year marks 160 years of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home taking in and rehoming animals in need. In addition to the site in Old Windsor, Battersea also has two other centres – the iconic London centre and their smaller centre in Brands Hatch, Kent.

The Old Windsor branch opened in 1979, and cares for around 100 dogs and 50 cats at any one time. In 2019, they rehomed 632 dogs and 527 cats. There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at Battersea, but the average stay for a dog is 34 days and 25 days for a cat.

She didn’t come empty handed however, and left a few festive treats, from her two dogs. A stocking with treats from the Buckingham Palace Royal Collection shop including a dog toys, a collar, a bandana and a corgi Christmas decoration.

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In the reception area there was a further opportunity to speak to those involved in running the centre, and learn about their work, before turning to the all-important royal task: unveiling a plaque.

“Now they say you should never work with animals, and now, with the help of Beth, I’m going to attempt to unveil a building with the help of a dog.”

The Duchess was helped by her four-legged friend, who quickly sniffed out the well-placed treat attached the the sheet, and tugged.

“Brilliant,” Camilla commented, and adding: “Anyone would think you’ve never been fed!”

Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall with Beth, unveiling a plaque at the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in Old Windsor

Camilla addressed those gathered and finished off her visit by hanging a canine decoration on the Battersea christmas tree.

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