Camilla wears face mask in public for National Gallery visit

28 July 2020, 14:19 | Updated: 28 July 2020, 14:26

The Duchess of Cornwall pictured wearing a face mask to visit the National Gallery on Tuesday
The Duchess of Cornwall pictured wearing a face mask to visit the National Gallery on Tuesday. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Duchess of Cornwall has worn a face mask in public for the first time as she visited the National Gallery to meet staff involved in its reopening.

Camilla had walked from her home of Clarence House to the gallery, and joked with staff that she hoped they could hear her through her designer mask.

The duchess's stylish blue Liberty print mask, which was made by couture designer Fiona Clare, matched the navy blue shade of her dress.

After an unprecedented 111 days with its doors closed, the National Gallery started welcoming visitors again on July 8 - the first major national art museum to reopen in the UK following lockdown.

Camilla complied with the gallery's new rules for her indoor engagement.

All staff at the tourist attraction in Trafalgar Square now wear face coverings and it is recommended that all visitors do the same.

Camilla told the Gallery's chair Lord Hall, who was wearing a clear visor, and gathered staff: "You're the first gallery to open.

The Duchess walked from her home of Clarence House to the nearby gallery
The Duchess walked from her home of Clarence House to the nearby gallery. Picture: PA

"I think it's brilliant. Hopefully it's going to inspire a lot of others to follow you on.

She prompted laughter as she pointed at her fabric mask and added: "If anybody can hear me through this... Anyway congratulations to all of you."

Members of the royal family have had to adapt to an unprecedented change in the way they carry out royal duties during the coronavirus pandemic.

Public appearances were swapped for online video calls as the Windsors followed the rules and stayed at home, but in recent weeks the royals have been carrying out socially distanced engagements.

As the duchess adjusted to using a face covering, she expressed a preference for the visors worn by staff instead, and joked she wished she was wearing her own one.

Camilla said: "Look at those visors. I cannot speak through this. It's quite hard having a conversation. Those visors are much easier."

Lord Hall replied: "You get used to them."

The National Gallery opened after 111 days closed
The National Gallery opened after 111 days closed. Picture: PA

The duchess added later: "It's a bit muffled. You have to have your ear trumpet to hear."

She told gallery staff member Carole Keltie: "I wish I was in my visor."

The duchess, whose husband the Prince of Wales is patron of the gallery, said of the reopening: "It's lovely to see relative normality."

Charles contracted the Covid-19 disease, but isolated from Camilla, who did not catch the virus.

The Duke of Cambridge was pictured in a surgical mask when he visited the Oxford Vaccine Group's facility in June to see work being done to find a vaccine.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex have also both seen wearing masks as they volunteered during lockdown.

Camilla also visited Boots' Piccadilly Store to hear about their support of the charity Hestia's Safe Spaces programme for victims of domestic violence.

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