The Duchess of Cornwall has revealed that she starts the day with ballet lessons and a ‘little bit of pilates’ to keep fit during the coronavirus lockdown.
Camilla, 72, let slip her secret in a video call to mark International Dance Day with Darcey Bussell, the Royal Ballet’s former principle dancer and president of The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), and former newsreader Angela Rippon.
The Duchess revealed that she has secretly been taking ballet lessons at home with a group of friends for the last 18 months and also opened up about her and Prince Charles’ experiences of lockdown.
Camilla, who is in Birkhall, Scotland with Prince Charles, admitted: ‘Well it’s very peculiar.
‘My husband is a workaholic so it’s work wherever he is. We try to do something for our charities most days.
Camilla, 72, shared her love of ballet in a video call to mark International Dance Day with Darcey Bussell, the Royal Ballet’s former principle dancer and president of The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), and former newsreader Angela Rippon
She revealed that she has secretly been taking ballet lessons at home with a group of girlfriends for the last 18 months
‘We’ve got to keep active otherwise we will all seize up and we won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. It doesn’t matter if it is ten minutes. It doesn’t matter if it is ten minutes or 20 minutes, it just starts off the day. ‘
Camilla revealed that she starts her day ‘with a bit of Silver Swans and a bit of Pilates.’
‘And a lot of walking, which I love,’ she added.
Prince Charles, 71, was struck down with the virus at the end of last month, though he made a full recovery.
He described the coronavirus pandemic as a ‘strange, frustrating and often distressing experience’ after recovering from the infection.
Camilla didn’t discuss her husband’s battle with the illness in the conversation, though she did open up about her previously secret ballet practice.
The Duchess said: ‘I had certainly never done ballet before, and it doesn’t matter whether you have done ballet or not, it’s something that will make you feel better.
The Duchess of Cornwall watching the ‘Silver Swans’ dancers at the Salvation Army Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand in November last year
Camilla, who is in Birkhall, Scotland with Prince Charles, also opened up about the ‘very peculiar’ coronavirus lockdown. Pictured are the couple taking part in the weekly national clap for carers event last week
It gives you a certain amount of confidence in yourself, it’s just a bit of discipline.’
Recalling how she first started, Camilla, who visited the RAD headquarters in Battersea in 2018, said: ‘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, it’s such a happy place.
‘I think dancing makes you happy!’
She admitted, however, that when told she was going to see a Silver Swans class, she thought: ‘Oh dear! What on earth is this going be? I thought it was going to be a lot of very ancient people like me wobbling about on one leg! [But] I couldn’t believe how good everyone was.
‘I mean they were so impressive.’
According to Camilla, the ‘wonderful’ dance teacher, a lady named Sarah, asked if she would ever consider trying it.
‘So I got together a group of of ancient friends together. The four of us sort of clatter around. When we are in London we do it once a week and it makes all the difference,’ she said.
‘I’ve always loved dancing but I’d never, never done ballet. [I enjoy] the feeling that we are all in it together.
Darcey Bussell, the Royal Ballet’s former principle dancer and president of The Royal Academy of Dance, spoke with the Duchess
Angela Rippon is an ambassador for the RAD’s ‘Silver Swans’ initiative, encouraging older people to stay fit and healthy through ballet classes
‘We thought at first it was going to be very funny and I was going to laugh at everybody toppling over to me next door, but we concentrate so hard that we don’t even know what our friend next door is doing. When I stand there I think to myself ‘drop your shoulders, breathe deeply, don’t hunch’. It’s those sorts of things you have ingrained in your memory.
‘You don’t have to have any experience with ballet before. It’s just something that makes you feel better. Which I think we all need in our lives. ‘
She added: ‘You might groan a bit afterwards and cough and grunt and everything else, but you do feel better. It’s fun, it’s really good fun. I am very much a beginner and will always stay a beginner but after 18 months of doing it I do feel I’ve improved a tiny bit.
‘But I’m certainly not taking it to the stage, shall we say. I’m keeping it in my own home, privately.’
The RAD developed Silver Swans in response to a growing demand for ballet classes for older people.
During the coronavirus crisis the RAD have launched free online classes for the over 55’s, with a new video available every Wednesday via their website and social media channels.
And Camilla, it seems, loves her new pastime so much that she has agreed to become vice patron of The RAD.
The Queen has been patron of the academy since 1953.
‘It’s a real honour for me to be asked,’ she said.
Dame Darcey Bussell, President of the RAD, said: ‘We are utterly delighted that The Duchess of Cornwall is going to be the Vice-Patron of the Royal Academy of Dance.
‘Ballet is a brilliant tool that you can use in every part of your life; it’s perfect for improving stability, posture, your core. It was fantastic to hear how The Duchess has benefited from dancing, and I hope she continues to enjoy her Silver Swans ballet classes.’
The Royal Academy of Dance received its Royal Charter from King George V in 1936.
Angela Rippon is an ambassador for the RAD’s ‘Silver Swans’ initiative, encouraging older people to stay fit and healthy through ballet classes designed to improve mobility, posture, coordination and energy levels.