Clarence House has announced that The Duchess of Cornwall has become Vice-Patron of The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). The announcement was made in a special video call with Dame Darcey Bussell, who is President of the RAD, and RAD’s Silver Swans Ambassador, Angela Rippon. You can watch the video below.
The Duchess was joined by Darcey and Angela in a video call to discuss RAD’s initiative to keep older learners moving to the music at home through free, online Silver Swans ballet tutorials – especially important during lockdown.
They discussed how beneficial dance is for maintaining mental and physical wellbeing, at any age, with Camilla, 73, explaining how taking part in RAD’s Silver Swans classes has positively affected her own life, explaining that she has been – along with friends – practising ballet at home when in London.
Camilla revealed her 18-months of ballet-at-home during the video call. “I had certainly never done ballet before, and it doesn’t matter whether you have done ballet or not, it’s something that will make you feel better,” she said. “It gives you a certain amount of confidence in yourself, it’s just a bit of discipline.”
“I got together a group of of ancient friends together. The four of us sort of clatter around. When we are in London we do it once a week and it makes all the difference,” she said. “I’ve always loved dancing but I’d never done ballet.
“You might groan a bit afterwards, but you do feel better. I am very much a beginner and will always stay a beginner but after 18 months of doing it I do feel I’ve improved a tiny bit.
The Royal joked: “But I’m certainly not taking it to the stage. I’m keeping it in my own home, privately!”
Camilla joins The Queen as a supporter of the organisation; the Monarch has been Patron of the RAD since 1953.
Established in 1920 to “improve standards and re-invigorate dance training”, the academy helps and encourages its teachers to perfect their teaching skills and pass on this knowledge to their students across the globe. The Royal Academy of Dance received its Royal Charter from George V in 1936.
The Duchess of Cornwall has previously visited RAD’s Headquarters in 2018, where she met a group of Silver Swans, and observed a class in action with the initiative’s ambassador Angela Rippon. She has also visited a group of ‘Swans’ in New Zealand in 2019, as well as participating in classes herself!
The video shows that Camilla thought ‘oh dear’ hearing that she would be seeing ‘Silver Swans, thinking ‘it was going to be very ancient old people like me, sort of wobbling about on one leg’ but that she was very impressed by their skills.
Discussing her new position as Vice-Patron of the RAD, she added: “It’s a real honour for me to be asked. My visit there was so memorable, first of all because of the Silver Swans, but actually meeting everybody. It had a wonderful feeling of comradeship and also, it’s such a happy place. I think dancing makes you happy!”
She is a fan of the ballet – as is Prince Charles – and visited her patronage, Elmhurst School of Ballet in January.
Dame Darcey Bussell, President of the RAD added: “We are utterly delighted that The Duchess of Cornwall is going to be the Vice-Patron of the Royal Academy of Dance. It was such an honour to have the opportunity to discuss the work of the RAD in more detail with Her Royal Highness.
“Ballet is a brilliant tool that you can use in every part of your life; it’s perfect for improving stability, posture, your core. It was fantastic to hear how The Duchess has benefited from dancing, and I hope she continues to enjoy her Silver Swans ballet classes.”
The video also shows us the Duchess calling the Prince of Wales a ‘workaholic’, and explaining that they are both trying to keep in touch with their charities each day to ‘encourage’ them during this difficult time.
During the pandemic, the RAD have free online classes for the over 55s, with a new video available every Wednesday at 1pm on their website and social media channels. Find out more at www.royalacademyofdance.org/RADathome