Camilla supports reopening at National Gallery & checks in on her wash bags project

Today, The Duchess of Cornwall headed to the National Gallery to see their new, Covid-safe opening measures, before heading to Boots to get an update on her wash-bags project.

Having walked the half-mile from Clarence House, almost unnoticeably, Camilla was received at the National Gallery by Director, Gabriele Finaldi and Chair, Lord Hall.

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She wore a peacock feather mask, made from a Liberty of London fabric, crafted by Fiona Clare; it was a birthday gift from a friend, we are told.

The Duchess met a number of National Gallery staff who assisted with the organisation’s response to the Covid-19 lockdown and have facilitated the building’s safe reopening to the public. The gallery has been closed for 111 days, after the UK locked down in response to the pandemic.

The Duchess of Cornwall visits the recently reopened National Gallery to meet with staff involved in the organisation’s Covid-19 response; she wore a peacock feather mask

The gallery started welcoming visitors again on Wednesday 8th July, making them the first major national art museum to reopen.

Learning from other countries’ museums sector, all visits to the gallery are now booked online, in advance, to help limit the number of people in the Gallery, queueing and contact. One way routes are in place, as well as an enhanced cleaning regime. All staff are wearing face visors

Whilst there, Camilla was treated to see the famous, newly-restored, Anthony van Dyck painting, Equestrian Portrait of Charles I. Larry Keith, Head of Conservation and Keeper spoke to the royal visitor about the work, which was painted c.1637.

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Camilla also got to see the recently-renovated Room 32 before she left. Room 32 is the largest and one of the most-visited rooms at the National Gallery, displaying 17th-century Italian paintings by artists including Caravaggio, Artemisia and Orazio Gentileschi, Guido Reni and Guercino.

The Prince of Wales has been Patron of the National Gallery since 2017.

It has reopened after a 21-month refurbishment project, as the Julia and Hans Rausing Room. Thanks to their support, the Gallery has re-instated the decorative design of its original architect, Edward M Barry, replaced the wooden floors and wall fabrics, and installed an air conditioning system.

Next for the Duchess, it was on to the Piccadilly Boots store, to hear about their support of the charity Hestia’s Safe Spaces programme for victims of domestic violence.

Camilla has long been a supporter of charities working to help victims of domestic and sexual abuse, calling it ‘everyones problem’. She also became the patron of SafeLives last month.

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The Duchess of Cornwall was greeted by Tracey Clements, Chief Operating Officer for Boots, as well as the Chief Pharmacist for Boots, Marc Donovan, who took the VIP upstairs to the pharmacy area.

Here, she was shown a consultation room which can be used for the Safe Spaces programme, to learn how the initiative is helping those who have been affected by domestic violence, especially during the lockdown period.

Hestia’s Bright Sky app saw an increase of 47% in downloads during lockdown. The scheme is in response to the desperate situation facing many victims who were and are isolating with perpetrators during lockdown. A convenient high street locations helps with such access; in the first week of the spaces being available, it is estimated over 100 people accessed them.

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The Duchess also got to see an example of a Boots washbag, receiving an update on the project with Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs).

Camilla thought up this idea back in 2013, having heard that many people – often women – who report sexual assault and go through the medical examination felt dirty. The scheme was rolled out nationwide in 2017 and since then, Boots has supplied 36,385 bags to over 50 SARCs.

This washbag contains shower gel, as well as other toiletries, to given them a small degree of comfort and familiarity at a very sensitive and often dehumanising time.

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Before departing, HRH spoke to members of staff to learn how they have adapted to support the NHS, its patients and communities during the pandemic.

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