Duchess of Cornwall catches up with 90-year-old pen pal & Silver Line user Betty

The Duchess of Cornwall has recently spent time on the phone with a regular Silver Line user, and a woman she has gotten to know through letters over the last few years, 90-year-old Betty.

Betty, who lives in Hampshire, spoke to Camilla in a joint call with Dame Esther Rantzen. Camilla is currently at Birkhall, her Scottish home, where she also spoke to someone who has been lonely in self-isolation a few weeks ago.

The Duchess of Cornwall first spoke to Betty in 2017 when she visited the Silver Line helpline in Blackpool, the same year she became patron of the organisation.

Duchess of Cornwall catches up with 90-year-old pen pal & Silver Line user Betty

Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall joins with Silver Line user Betty and Dame Esther Ranzen on a call from Birkhall (Clarence House)

Silver Line operates a 24-hour helpline for older people to call if they are lonely or in need of support.

Betty has kept in regular contact with the Royal since then, most recently writing to the Duchess after she visited Auschwitz to mark 75 years since the liberation of the Concentration Camp; Betty then shared a poem that she had written about the liberation of Auschwitz.

Topics the trio discussed included how difficult it was being separated from family and what it was like during the war.

Betty said that during the Second World War, she had worked quite close to where VE Day was planned.

The Duchess said: “It’s going to be a very strange VE Day this year. We won’t be able to do anything in person with veterans, which is so sad. You just hate missing a year, because those times mean so much”.

VE Day celebrations have of course been postponed because of the pandemic.

The Duchess added: “It’s so important that people share their memories of the war. I think that the people who lived through it have extra strength for the situation we are in now. Just like during the war, this situation brings the best out of people. You hear such wonderful stories of people helping others. Your generation was always very modest about these things. We will never see the like of your generation again. People were always thinking about others, and about duty and service and respect and manners. Those are the things I associate with your generation, Betty”.

The Duchess of Cornwall catches up with Silver Line user Betty via a call from Birkhall (Clarence House)

“My father was a soldier in the war and we could never get him to talk about it. But when the grandchildren came along, he started talking about it and we got him to write a small book about it. I think it was a huge load off his mind to be able to tell people about it”.

We see in the photo taken by a member of staff, the Duchess sitting in an armchair with a dog in her lap (Jack Russell, Beth), who also joined Camilla and The Prince of Wales for a photo to mark their 15th wedding anniversary. In the background are family photos, including one of Camilla with her daughter Laura on her wedding day.

The conversation moved on to family, about which Camilla commented: “I really miss my grandchildren. That’s the really strange thing about it, not being able to see your grandchildren and giving them a hug”.

The Duchess ended the call saying: “Stay safe everyone and see you when this is all over”.

A statement released by Clarence House on the Duchess’ behalf said: “For many lonely people, the Silver Line represents a lifeline into the outside world. As its proud Patron I am thinking about all the Silver Liners, the staff and the volunteers in these challenging times.

“Once again it was a huge pleasure to talk to Betty, as I always find her indomitable spirit truly inspiring. We both agreed that we must all keep picking up the telephone, keep sharing our thoughts and keep making friends….it is these little things that help get us all through these dark days and find light at the end of them”.

Those wishing to speak to someone can call Silver Line of 0800 470 8090 24 hours a day.

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