The Duchess of Cornwall Undertakes Engagements in London

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The Duchess of Cornwall with therapy dog, Meg, and Liam Curtis at Kerikeri Primary School, the Bay of Islands

Tuesday 28th July 2020

Engagement 1

The Duchess of Cornwall will visit the recently reopened National Gallery to meet with staff involved in the organisation’s Covid-19 response and reopening process.

Her Royal Highness will arrive at the National Gallery where she will be received by Director, Gabriele Finaldi and Chair, Lord Hall. The Duchess will then meet a number of National Gallery staff who assisted with the organisation’s response to the Covid-19 lockdown and facilitated the building’s safe reopening for the public. Larry Keith, Head of Conservation and Keeper will next direct Her Royal Highness to the newly restored Anthony van Dyck painting, Equestrian Portrait of Charles I. The Duchess will view the recently renovated Room 32 before departing. 

After an unprecedented 111 days with its doors closed, the National Gallery started welcoming visitors again on Wednesday 8 July – the first major national art museum to reopen in the UK after the Covid-19 shutdown. 

In line with best practice learnt from colleagues in European and American museums, some changes have been made to the Gallery that puts the safety of their visitors and staff first. All visits are now booked online and in advance, in order to manage the number of people in the Gallery, limit queueing and reduce contact. There are two meter social distancing measures in place throughout the Gallery, and three, one-way art routes to guide visitors through different areas of the collection have been introduced. An enhanced cleaning regime is in operation and hand sanitizer stations can be found at regular intervals throughout the building. All staff are wearing face coverings and it is recommended that all visitors do too. From 22 July, the Gallery extended its opening hours to meet demand. 

Room 32 – the largest and one of the most visited rooms displaying 17th-century Italian paintings by artists including Caravaggio, Artemisia and Orazio Gentileschi, Guido Reni and Guercino – has reopened after a 21-month refurbishment project, as the Julia and Hans Rausing Room. Thanks to their support, the Gallery has re-instated the decorative design of its original architect, Edward M Barry, replaced the wooden floors and wall fabrics, and installed an air conditioning system. 

Another highlight is the newly restored Equestrian Portrait of Charles I by Van Dyck (about 1637/8) back on show in Room 21 after more than two years. This monumental work (measuring 367 × 292.1 cm) has been off display since September 2017 undergoing conservation. 

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has been Patron of the National Gallery since 2017. 

Engagement 2

The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Boots Piccadilly Store to hear about their support of the charity Hestia’s Safe Spaces programme for victims of domestic violence, and receive an update on the Wash Bags project initiated by Her Royal Highness. The Duchess will also meet store and pharmacy staff to learn about the company’s response to the coronavirus crisis. 

Arriving at Boots Piccadilly, The Duchess will be greeted by Tracey Clements, Chief Operating Officer for Boots as well as the Chief Pharmacist for Boots, Marc Donovan, and move upstairs to the pharmacy area. There she will see a consultation room which can be used for the Safe Spaces programme and speak to Lyndsey Dearlove from the charity Hestia on how the initiative is helping those who have been affected by domestic violence, especially during the lockdown period. In this consultation room, The Duchess will also see an example of a Boots washbag and receive an update on the project with Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs). Before departing, Her Royal Highness will meet store and pharmacy colleagues to learn how they have adapted to support the NHS, its patients and customers in the communities it serves during the pandemic. 

Her Royal Highness first visited a rape crisis centre (RASASC) in Croydon, in November 2009. Since then, The Duchess has made frequent visits to other Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Referral Centres throughout the UK and overseas. The stories she heard during these visits have left Her Royal Highness with a strong desire to raise awareness about rape and sexual abuse and to try to help those affected. In June of this year The Duchess became Patron of domestic abuse charity Safe Lives. 

Boots Safe Spaces 

Beginning in May, Boots UK announced that it was working in partnership with the charity Hestia and its UK SAYS NO MORE campaign to offer victims of domestic abuse access to safe spaces in Boots pharmacy consultation rooms across its 2,400 stores. Once inside the consultation room, victims can contact specialist domestic abuse services for support and advice, including information on Hestia’s Bright Sky app, which saw an increase of 47% in downloads during lockdown. The scheme is in response to the desperate situation facing many victims who were/are isolating with perpetrators during lockdown. It’s times like these that accessibility to services from convenient high street locations takes on an increased importance. Across all Boots stores, in the first week of the spaces being available, it is estimated over 100 people accessed them. 

The Wash Bag Project 

Launched in 2017, the Wash Bag Project is a scheme in which wash bags containing a range of toiletries (shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste and toothbrush etc.) are provided to victims of rape or sexual abuse. The wash bags are provided to Sexual Assault Referral Centre clients who have undergone a forensic examination so that they can use them when having a shower and getting dressed afterwards. The aim is that this gesture provides them with a small degree of comfort and familiarity at a very sensitive and often dehumanising time. 

The Wash Bag Project, conceived by The Duchess of Cornwall, is inspired by the stories Her Royal Highness heard during visits to Sexual Assault Referral Centres. The scheme was developed in consultation with UK Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) and successfully piloted since 2013 at The Haven in London. It launched nationally in March 2017 when The Duchess visited the Boots Support Office in Nottingham. Since 2017, Boots UK has supplied 36,385 bags to over 50 SARCs across the UK. Last month, a delivery of 3,993 was made to SARCs across the UK, this also included six new SARCs in remote areas of Scotland. 

Boots’ role in the COVID-19 pandemic 

Boots has been at the heart of healthcare in the UK for 171 years. It has lived through many crises, some as life-changing as the one we are facing today, but each time Boots has believed that it is its duty to step forward and do all it can to care the nation in its time of need. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. The vast majority of its stores remained open throughout lock down, supporting patients and customers throughout by providing essential pharmacy services. 

Throughout this time, it has also worked to support the UK Government, setting up and running the first drive-through COVID-19 testing station for NHS workers in just 5 days. Today it continues to support over 30 sites across the UK, with hundreds of Boots colleagues performing swab tests on those with suspected COVID-19 symptoms. 

Among other initiatives, throughout the pandemic, Boots has also donated over half a million products to those who need them most, including to: 

  • The Hygiene Bank/Fareshare, and getting important hygiene products including sanitary items/soaps into foodbanks to help the most vulnerable 
  • NHS front line workers – including more soap/hand wash and moisturisers to help protect their skin after wearing additional PPE 
  • Care home staff as a thank you for all that they are doing 

Hestia

Hestia supports adults and children in times of crisis. It delivers services across London and the surrounding regions, as well as campaign and advocate nationally on the issues that affect the people it works with. This includes victims of modern slavery, women and children who have experienced domestic abuse, young care leavers and older people. From giving someone a home, to helping them to get the right mental health support, Hestia supports people at the moment of crisis and enable them to build a life beyond a crisis.

It is proud to be the home of UK SAYS NO MORE, bringing together a diverse coalition of individuals, charities, businesses and public sector organisations to campaign for an end to domestic abuse and sexual violence. The Safe Spaces initiative was in response to the challenges faced by victims of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown and their inability to access specialist support services.