"You might groan a bit afterward, and huff and grunt and everything else, but you do feel so much better," Camilla said

By Simon Perry
April 28, 2020 07:00 PM
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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Birkhall

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall has been taking ballet classes in an effort to stay active in her 70s.

Prince Charles’s wife has been getting together with friends at her home in London for the past 18 months to take part in the sessions, which are now being made available online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” says Camilla, who is an exponent of active aging — said in a video call with dancer Dame Darcy Bussell and broadcaster Angela Rippon.

Camilla, 72, was inspired to try the Silver Swans ballet classes after she learned about them in 2018.

“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,” she added.

“When I stand there I think to myself, ‘Drop your shoulders, breathe deeply, don’t hunch.' It’s those sorts of things which you have ingrained in your memory."

The video chat comes as Camilla was unveiled as vice-patron of the Royal Academy of Dance, of which Queen Elizabeth is patron. New free online classes have become available to help with staying active at any age.

The trio talked about how beneficial dance is for maintaining mental and physical wellbeing, at any age, with the duchess saying how taking part in the Silver Swans classes has been a positive influence.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Clarence House

“I’ve certainly never done any ballet before, and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve done ballet or not. It’s something that will make you feel better. It gives you a certain amount of confidence in yourself. It’s just a bit of discipline there, which I think we all need in our lives. You might groan a bit afterward, and huff and grunt and everything else, but you do feel so much better.”

Taking on the vice-patron role was “no hardship for me,” Camilla tells Dame Darcey. “I love dance in any form, so it’s a real honor for me to be asked. My visit there was so memorable, first of all, because of the Silver Swans, but actually meeting everybody. It had a wonderful feeling of comradeship and also such a happy place! I think dancing makes you happy.”

Speaking from Birkhall, Scotland, where she has been staying since the start of the coronavirus crisis, she says that during the lockdown, she and husband Prince Charles, 71, have been trying to keep up with their charities.

"It’s very peculiar. Suddenly you look at the diary and everything is scratched out! My husband is a workaholic so he will work wherever he is, so he’s sitting at his desk now working away,” she tells them.

“We try to do something for all our charities most days to try and give them a bit of encouragement and just try to lend them a bit of our support.”

Camilla is president of the Royal Osteoporosis Society and says she appreciates the importance of staying active.

Camilla and Prince Charles
Christopher Furlong - WPA Pool/Getty

“If we don’t, we’ll just seize up and we won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning," she says.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s 10 minutes or 20 minutes, it just starts off the day. I do a combination of a bit of Silver Swans and a bit of pilates and a lot of walking, which I love. It’s what we try and tell people to do to keep their bones strong.”

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Camilla visited the Royal Academy of Dance’s HQ in Battersea in February 2018, where she met a group of Silver Swans students and was shown an initiative to encourage boys into ballet, and also caught up with a Silver Swans class during her visit to New Zealand with Charles last year.