"I hope we can talk about what is happening behind closed doors across the country," Camilla said

By Simon Perry and Erin Hill
Updated July 14, 2016 02:10 PM
Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is making good on her promise to help break the taboo of domestic abuse.

The royal hosted an emotional reception for survivors of domestic abuse at Clarence House, the official London residence she shares with husband Prince Charles, on Thursday.

After visiting SafeLives, an organization that works to safeguard those at risk from harm from partners or family members, in January, Camilla was visibly moved and pledged to help victims after hearing their powerful stories.

Thursday’s reception brought together domestic abuse survivors, representatives from charities working on behalf of the issue, politicians, representatives from the police and ambassadors for the cause, including Sir Patrick Stewart, who witnessed his father’s violence against his mother and is now a patron of the charity, Refuge.

“Domestic abuse remains a hidden problem in our society,” Camilla said in a moving speech. “It is characterized by silence – silence from those who suffer, silence from those around them and silence from those who perpetrate abuse.

“This silence is corrosive: it leaves women, children and men carrying the burden of shame, it prevents them from speaking out about their abuse and it prevents them from getting help. And at its worst, it can be fatal.

“I hope very much that today might mark a moment when we start to pull back that shroud of silence,” she continued. “I hope we can talk about what is happening behind closed doors across the country and I hope that these brave people have the courage to speak out and to be, in the words of one of our guests, ‘victors not victims.’ ”

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At the reception, Stewart told reporters, “To hear the Duchess speak and to hear of her support for what Refuge and other groups are doing will have such an impact – that she has spoken out.

“People have the mistaken sense that domestic violence only happens in rundown council flats or in bad estates somewhere – it s a working-class problem – angry, drunken, violent men. Not at all. It is across all society. No matter education, income, environment, quality of life, class, the work that you do, it is everywhere. But it is the great unspoken problem, which the Duchess mentioned.”

Earlier in the week, Camilla shined a light on another cause close to her heart – literacy.

Alongside Lucy Dahl, Camilla helped unveil a special sculpture in London’s St James’s Park that was inspired by the dream jars used by The BFJ in Roald Dahl’s inspired book.

“The power of a good story is immense. It starts a voyage of discovery into different worlds that broadens and stimulates our minds. My dream is that every child learns to read and discovers the lifelong pleasure of books,” she said at the event.

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Camilla is a patron of Roald Dahl 100, a series of events based around the date that would have been his centenary.

“She’s absolutely lovely – she’s just like you and me,” Dahl’s daughter, Lucy, told reporters of Camilla, adding, “When Dad was alive, he was such a humble man. To have all these people inspired by him and so much written about him and so much celebration now of him and his work – his genius, really – I think he would have been absolutely delighted, but might secretly have gone and hidden in his hut!”