There was sausages and mash made into smiley faces, tree decorating – and Father Christmas even spared two of his reindeer, Dancer and Blitzen, for the children (and Camilla) to stroke.
One little girl, nine-year-old Lara Mehmet, held the duchess’s hand and looked at the animals in wonder.
“A reindeer, a serious reindeer!” she exclaimed in wonder.
“Yes a serious reindeer”, Camilla chuckled, as she encouraged the youngster to stroke it.
“He tickles!” the little girl squealed.
“Yes, I would love to feed him too”, the royal said as she stretched out her hand.
The fun was part of an annual event that the duchess throws for the children of Helen & Douglas House, the world’s first children’s hospice in Oxfordshire, which provides medical, emotional and practical support for seriously ill children and their families, as well as youngsters helped by Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity. She is patron of both organisations.
The children and their families were invited to Clarence House, her official London home to meet the Duchess before being asked to help her decorate a Christmas tree with brightly coloured ornaments.
There was time for a fabulous lunch served by Camilla, dressed in Bruce Oldfield, and her team with squash, gingerbread cookies, candy canes, iced biscuits and cakes.
Among the guests were Darre Downey, ten, and his mother, Kerrie, who flew over from Belfast.
Darre’s mother explained that he suffered a brain tumour and stroke two years ago and was receiving care and support from Roald Dahl.
‘It’s just such a wonderful event,’ she said.
Tyler Standing, six, from Brighton, was with his parents, Jane and David. He was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.
Although a chatterbox normally, he completely clammed up on meeting Prince Charles’s wife.
Jane explained later that his diagnosis, at the age of three, had come out of the blue and had been very hard to deal with, but for Tyler’s sake they simply tried to get on with life and “accept the inevitable”.
She said: “A friend wrote to the Duchess and asked if Tyler could come and because she has an association with the charity that helps us, she said yes. We cannot thank her enough, it has been a magical experience. We can’t believe we are here.”
After lunch, the duchess handed out goodie bags and told the children and their parents: “I hope you’ve all enjoyed your lunch today.
"I’ve got a surprise for you all outside, but before we go out I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas. The tree decorating for me is always the start of Christmas.
Camilla told them the annual event always signalled “the start of Christmas”, adding: “I haven’t thought about it before today, but I come in and see the tree and the children and everything and it just gets me in a Christmas mood.”
Jasper Grannum, of Chalfont St Giles, was thrilled when Camilla offered him a second helping of his favourite sausage and mash.
“She’s a beautiful lady,” he said, beaming. Asked if she was his new best friend, he added: “Probably.”
The 12-year-old Chelsea FC fan suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting condition, which has left him confined to a wheelchair since last year.
Mum Nicola said: “He was diagnosed when he was two and lost the ability to walk when he was 11. He loves his sports and used to play football, but now he plays wheelchair football.”
Jasper goes to Helen and Douglas House hospice for respite care, giving his family, including a nine-year-old sister, a break from 24-hour care.
“He has been going for two or three years now and he loves it. The nurses there are incredible,” said Nicola. “The Duchess has been so lovely, she’s a very warm person. Jasper has been really looking forward to coming and it’s been wonderful.”
The Duchess also invited the youngsters to help her decorate a giant tree and try on a bearskin worn by assistant equerry Jack Farmelo, of 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards.
Alexander Harvey, 10, of Northampton, was joined by mum Elizabeth and grandmother Valerie Bignell, after being invited through Helen and Douglas House.
“It means everything to be here today,” said Elizabeth. “We have been so looking forward to it. She’s (Camilla) such a lovely lady.”
In even more Royal Family news, a Royal butler has revealed the do's and don'ts of Christmas entertaining, including the correct time to pull your crackers and why you should keep your glass in your left hand.
Plus Meghan and Kate Middleton’s body language ‘revealed rifts’ when asked about rows in February – a body language expert has revealed.
And as Kate and Meghan are set for a tense festive time, here’s how to defuse family arguments around Christmas.
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