How Charles and Camilla embraced online duties


The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall adapted quickly to a new digital way of working during lockdown – using smartphones propped on books, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and even House Party, aides have revealed.

Clive Alderton, the prince’s principal private secretary, told how Charles and Camilla embraced the changes from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

The couple’s experience of keeping in contact digitally with their families was said to have prepared them well for the switch to online work.

“As the world went into lockdown, Their Royal Highnesses adapted literally overnight to a new digital first way of working,” Mr Alderton said.

“For a family that is used to having to be ‘seen to be believed’, this was a new challenge.

“But the films they made using little more than a smartphone propped up on a pile of books, reached millions covering topics ranging from isolation, domestic violence, to book lists to keep the mind active.”

As Clarence House’s annual review briefing was held virtually for the first time, a senior royal source told how Camilla was converted to using the social networking app House Party.

“They were able, literally overnight from the moment the Prime Minister announced that national lockdown, to flick into doing everything online by Zoom, with Teams, the duchess discovered House Party,” the source said.

But it was stressed that the prince, the duchess and the rest of the royal family would try to get out and about to meet people as much as restrictions allowed.

Charles on a walkabout
Charles on a walkabout

“This is a family that loves being out there, that loves meeting people, that is energised by being out there and meeting people but we’re finding that they’re also pretty energised by meeting people virtually,” the source said.

“So we’ll keep them connected in every way we can, we are still hoping to get them out and about as much as we can.

“We will use every bit of the flexibility that the various home nations’ administrations allow.”

Clarence House said a couple of short foreign visits were being planned and would go ahead if permitted.

Charles, 71, contracted a mild form of coronavirus in March and had to isolate in Birkhall in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and among the many video messages he delivered was one offering his own reflections on his experience.

The royal family adapted to an unprecedented change in royal duties during lockdown.

Public appearances were swapped for online video calls as the Windsors followed the rules and stayed at home.

The Queen delivered two rare televised addresses to the nation, and also took part in her own first official video conference call as part of her public duties, speaking to carers with the Princess Royal.