Prince Charles recently became the first royal to test positive for coronavirus, and went into self-isolation for 14 days in March. Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall had been living apart all that time at their residence on the Queen’s Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire. The Duchess of Cornwall was also tested for COVID-19 but returned a negative result.
Which secret hobby has Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall taken up in lockdown?
The Duchess has revealed that for the last eighteen months, she has been having secret dance lessons with her “ancient friends”.
Speaking to Strictly’s Dame Darcey Bussell along with Angela Rippon in celebration of International Dance Day, the Duchess, 72, said her weekly dance lessons have left her “groaning, huffing and grunting”.
The Duchess said she has been enjoying her weekly ballet lessons with the Royal Academy of Dance Silver Swans for around a year-and-a-half.
The lessons are understood to be specially designed for older learners – hence her referral to her “ancient friends” – where trainers specialise in teaching ballet for the over-55s.
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In a video call to Dame Darcey and Angela, the Duchess said: “I do a combination of a bit of Silver Swans and a bit of Pilates and a lot of walking which I love. We’ve all got to keep active.”
“If we don’t we’ll all seize up and won’t be able to get out of bed in the mornings.”
The Duchess of Cornwall said she was inspired to start up the dance lessons after visiting a Silver Swans dance class in New Zealand last year.
The Duchess said she was apprehensive at first as she was afraid “it was going to be a lot of very ancient people like me sort of wobbling about on one leg”.
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She added: “Sarah, the wonderful teacher, said to me ‘would you ever consider having a dance lesson?’, so I got a group of ancient friends together and the four of us sort of clatter around, and when we’re in London, we do it once a week and it makes all the difference.
“I thought it was going to be very funny and I was going to laugh at everybody toppling over next door to me, but I think we concentrate so hard we don’t even know what our friend next door is doing.
“When I stand there I think to myself, ‘Drop your shoulders, breathe deeply, don’t hunch’. It’s those sort of things which you have ingrained in your memory.
“I’m very, very much a beginner and probably will always remain a beginner, but I do feel after a year, or 18 months of doing it that maybe I’ve improved a tiny bit.
“But I’m certainly not going to be taking to the stage. I shall keep it in my own home very privately.”
Sarah Platt, Royal Academy of Dance and Silver Swans teacher, said that “it bowled me over how well they’ve done”.
She joked that she had been nervous to use the furniture in Clarence House as a make-shift barre because “they are not the usual plastic chairs” she is used to using for class.
When asked how she was getting on during the lockdown, the Duchess, who has been made vice-patron of the RAD and focuses some of her charity work on activity in old age, said that it was “very peculiar” to have her normally very busy schedule “scratched out”.
Ms Platt now produces a weekly video class for members of all ages and levels on the RAD’s social media sites.
She says she hopes this will encourage more newcomers to try and enjoy ballet.
Ms Platt added: “This is gentle, it’s safe, it’s weight bearing so it’s good for the bones and body. And you can progress at your own level depending on your confidence.”
The lessons are available online as part of the College’s ‘[email protected]’ scheme amid the continuing lockdown.
Dame Bussell said: “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 Higness.
“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.”
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