Camilla heartbreak: Duchess issues emotional plea to British theatre – ‘we need you’

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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 73, issued an emotional plea to the UK’s theatre industry which has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. As theatres across the nation remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Duchess urged them to “remain resilient.”

Camilla spoke out as she presented lyricist Don Black with the Special Olivier Award during a virtual ceremony which had been pre-recorded earlier this week.

The virtual Olivier Awards ceremony celebrates those who have made a significant contribution to theatre in the last 18 months.

The ceremony was filmed at the London Palladium on Tuesday (October 20) and will be aired on ITV on Sunday evening.

After presenting the award, Camilla who is a patron of the British arts gave a morale-boosting speech to the theatre industry.

The Duchess emphasised theatre’s importance by quoting Laurence Olivier while acknowledging the past few months had been “extremely hard.”

Camilla said: “Surely we would all echo Olivier, ‘I believe in the theatre’.

“It is a cornerstone of a fertile cultural life, a forum for debate, and a powerful means of building community.

“After all, a play can be many things – funny, heart-breaking, cathartic, comforting. It can entertain us for an evening, or enrich the soul forever.”

The Duchess added: “But whatever form a performance takes, it allows us to deepen our understanding of ourselves, others and the world around us.

“Perhaps most importantly, those of us who believe in the theatre also believe in its resilience.

“The last few months have, very sadly, hit theatres and those who work in them extremely hard, just as they have all the live performing arts.

“I was therefore delighted to learn about the creation of the Theatre Artists’ Fund, which has already made an enormous difference to many.”

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Camilla added: “I should like to thank those of you whose profession is in the theatre for your determination and your flexibility.

“Please remain resilient – we need you and we have missed you.”

Presenting the special award, the duchess said: “Don, of course, has lived and breathed the theatre for decades, and his wonderful lyrics have become part of the fabric of our lives.

“I said just now that the theatre is a builder of community. Don, as always, captures this sentiment perfectly in Mrs Henderson Presents with the brilliant line, ‘When we’re together, all our woes are gone.’

She added: “Don, you are a great dispeller of woes. Many congratulations on this thoroughly well-deserved award.”

During her visit to the theatre, Camilla met Lord Lloyd-Webber and the co-founders of the Theatre Artists’ Fund, director Sam Mendes and chief executive of the Society of London Theatre Julian Bird.

The fund has raised almost £4 million to date and helped more than 2,600 people.

The Olivier Awards will air on October 25 on ITV at 10pm.

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