Celebrity bookings, online exercise and Zoom family calls: 10 things we learned when Camilla took over Radio 5

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·8-min read
Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall reacts as she meets with firefighters, staff from Great Western Hospital, and paramedics from South Western Ambulance Service during her visit to Swindon Fire Station in Swindon, west of London on July 6, 2020. - Britain has suffered the deadliest coronavirus outbreak in Europe, reporting more than 44,000 deaths among patients who have tested positive. Infection rates have fallen significantly but experts warn the virus remains in circulation. (Photo by Eddie MULHOLLAND / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EDDIE MULHOLLAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla guest edited the Emma Barnett show on Radio 5. (Getty Images)

The Duchess of Cornwall has taken over the airwaves of Radio 5, turning her hand to editing a show on the station for the first time.

Camilla gave an interview for The Emma Barnett Show and then used the rest of the show to highlight charities and causes she is passionate about.

In particular, she raised issues of domestic violence and abuse, bringing up her fears that the true figure of the problem in lockdown would be high.

Speaking after the show, she said she was thrilled to hear so many of her charities talk about how COVID-19 had affected them.

She told Barnett they would “celebrate with a hobnob” after the show.

She booked Dame Judi Dench

Actor Dame Judi Dench made an appearance on the show, and the two women swapped stories of getting used to using the internet during lockdown.

After Dame Judi’s call, Barnett thanked Camilla, saying: “Thanks for a booking a good guest there, I’m not sure we could have got her without you.”

Camilla replied: “You can’t do better than Judi.”

COWES, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 24: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall enjoys an ice cream with Dame Judi Dench as she arrives at Queen Victoria's private beach, next to the monarch's holiday home, during her visit to the Isle of Wight on July 24, 2018 in Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla booked Dame Judi Dench for the show on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

She’s excited to hug her grandchildren

Camilla has previously talked about how much she is missing her grandchildren in lockdown, and called it a “great treat” to be able to see her grandchildren when restrictions eased partly in June.

On the show, she said: “You’re so excited because you haven’t seen them for three-and-a-half months. Your first reaction is to run up and hug them, and you have to sort of put up your hands. It’s a very odd feeling.”

She’s keeping up with her exercise by using Facebook - but Joe Wicks is not for her

The duchess revealed earlier in lockdown that she was doing ballet and Pilates from home, and she said she’s been keeping up with it throughout.

Asked if she was a fan of Joe Wicks, who has been doing regular workouts for children through the pandemic, she said: “I haven’t tried Joe Wicks, because I know if I did I would put something out straight away.

“I’d start very enthusiastically.”

BATH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31:  Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall and Patron of St. John's Hospital, poses with members of the "Silver Swans" dance class as she visits the charity's almshouses and officially opens the newly refurbished Rosenberg House during a visit to Bath on January 31, 2017 in Bath, England. Her Royal Highness will meet local organisations supported by St John's as well as community groups who use the facilities and attend a reception for residents and supporters.  (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool / Getty Images)
Camilla with Silver Swans in Bath - she's been doing the lessons online. (Getty Images)

Camilla dubbed herself a “very ancient silver swan” and spoke about encouraging a group of her friends to join up to the ballet classes, which are for over-70s.

She said: “In lockdown I got it on Facebook, I got Sarah (one of the instructors) on Facebook, but then I managed to obviously doing something wrong, I did something to my back and so I had to lay off it for a bit.”

She said she does the classes “every morning” but “I don’t do it in front of the mirror - the shock might be too great.

“I do about 20 minutes of the exercises I was given, so hopefully I will be back.”

Of whether her friends would return, she said: “I will get the rather creaky crew back together.

“I might get some t-shirts made, I’m not sure they’d appreciate it.”

Read more: 100 things the Royal Family has done in 100 days of lockdown

She’s a zoom granny

Camilla has chatted online with her grandchildren and her son, Tom Parker-Bowles, revealed she had also been able to play games using House Party.

He said he was “definitely” impressed.

She said: “Yes, I played Trivial Pursuit on House Party - and I won.”

She’s not strict, says her son

Camilla’s son, food critic Tom Parker-Bowles, called into the show, and Barnett took the opportunity to ask if his mother was a strict parent.

After hesitating a bit, he said: “My mother? Strict... no.”

She replied: “You know when I’m cross.”

They also spoke about their differences in tase, with Tom saying he likes chilli and spiced food, but she prefers “plain” dishes.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18:  Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and son Tom Parker Bowles attend the launch of "Fortnum & Mason: The Cook Book" by Tom Parker Bowles at Fortnum & Mason on October 18, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Fortnum and Mason)
Camilla and her son Tom can't cook together, it seems. (Getty Images)

He said: “We argue in the kitchen, she would say I was doing something wrong, I would moan her knives are blunt or not enough light, so it’s best if we keep separate.”

Camilla said: “Tom is a very good cook, and he is dead right, he loves everything very very hot, he adores chillies, I’m afraid to say I don’t.

“He complains about my kitchen, he says I’ve haven’t got the modern stuff, everything’s wrong, my knives are blunt.”

She’s worried about domestic abuse in lockdown

Camilla has become patron of SafeLives, a domestic abuse charity she has worked with for several years, and she recalled the story which led her to want to work with victims.

She said she was moved to tears after hearing about a woman whose husband killed her in a hammer attack, in front of her children.

The mother of the woman killed by her husband wrote into the show to give an update, saying the children were grown up and doing well.

Camilla said: “I just want to say how impressed I was by you when I met you. Being a grandmother myself, I can’t imagine it.

“To take these children into your home, it’s remarkable thing to do.

“Just one look at your face, I knew I had to do something.”

Camilla has also voiced fears the “true number” of victims will be “horrific”.

She talks to her dogs

Camilla had to try to convince host Emma Barnett about dogs (the host said she didn’t understand why anyone would share a home with an “animal which effectively poos outside and then comes and wipes itself on your nice rug”) so spoke about her pets’ positivity in all circumstances.

Camilla said: “The nice thing about dogs is you can sit them down, have a nice long conversation, you can be cross, you can be sad, and they just sit looking at you and wagging their tail, and they don’t answer back.”

She added: “Something in the eyes, they look up, and those nice warm eyes.

“They’re always pleased to see you. I come back from London, or from long tours, and open the door, they jump up and down, it’s really cheering.”

Read more: Camilla compares Prince Charles to a mountain goat, as she calls him 'fittest man I know'

The duchess’s dogs, Beth and Bluebell, were both adopted from Battersea Dogs and Cats home, and had been abused.

Camilla said Beth had been “moved about from pillar to post”, while Bluebell had been found in the woods “no hair on her, covered in sores, virtually dead”. She described her as “very sweet, but neurotic”.

She said her dogs were allowed “nearly everywhere”, though they can’t sleep on the bed.

She’s finding the new normal “strange”

Camilla was asked about how she is finding “the new normal” of social distancing and avoiding shaking hands.

“It’s very strange, we went to Gloucester the other day to thank these wonderful frontline NHS workers, and you want to go up to them and shake their hands, and say ‘you’ve done such a wonderful job’.

“It didn’t feel quite the same standing on my circle, don’t move to left or right, you had to shout ‘thank you’.

“It’s very different,” she said.

She also said her frequent visits to India and Nepal mean she and her husband are used to using a ‘namaste’ greeting instead of shaking hands.

Camilla said in-person engagements were preferred to online ones.

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 16: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall chats with NHS staff and front line key workers who who have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic during a visit to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital on June 16, 2020 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by WPA Pool-Ben Birchall/Getty Images)
Camilla chats with NHS staff and front line key workers who who have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic during a visit to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. (Getty Images)

Read more: Camilla appears to take style cues from Duchess of Cambridge for Swindon visit

Her husband Charles is still feeling effects of coronavirus

Prince Charles, Camilla’s husband of 15 years, tested positive for coronavirus in March, but has made a good recovery, having experienced mild symptoms.

But he recently revealed he had lost his sense of taste and smell because of the disease.

Camilla told Barnett that he’s still not quite back to normal.

Asked if he has got the senses back, Camilla said: “Nearly.

“It sort of comes and goes a bit.”

She also revealed he is a “very very fit man”, likening him to “a mountain goat who leaves everyone miles behind”.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall greet French President Emmanuel Macron with a namaste gesture as he arrives at Clarence House on June 18, 2020 in London, England.  L'Appel du 18 Juin (The Appeal of 18 June) was the speech made by Charles de Gaulle to the French in 1940 and broadcast in London by the BBC. It called for the Free French Forces to fight against German occupation. The appeal is often considered to be the origin of the French Resistance in World War II. President Macron is the first foreign dignitary to visit the UK since the coronavirus lockdown began. (Photo by Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla use a namaste greeting to avoid shaking hands with Emmanuel Macron. (Getty Images)

She still calls the radio “the wireless”

Old habits die hard and for Camilla, that means she calls the radio “the wireless”, though by the end of the show she had managed to call it a radio once or twice.

Camilla’s turn on the wireless follows her husband’s takeover of Classic FM earlier in lockdown, as he highlighted the plight of musicians who had lost work because of the closure of venues.

The couple is living in their Wiltshire and Gloucestershire homes as they make gradual returns to work in-person.