Camilla hails 'brave women' whose loved ones were murdered by mafia

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The Duchess of Cornwall has paid tribute to the "brave women" of Naples whose loved ones have been murdered by the mafia.

After hearing how a 45-year-old widow's security guard husband was killed by the Naples-based crime syndicate called the Camorra, Camilla took the woman's hand and said she was "very strong".

The Duchess met the group in La Gloriette, a picturesque villa in Naples once owned by crime boss Michele Zaza.

In his 1970s heyday he was one of the most powerful kingpins in the region, but after dying in custody his home was confiscated by the state and is now used by a number of charities including ones supporting victims of crime and women who have fled domestic violence.

Camilla told the 45-year-old: "You are all very brave women, I think you're very strong, you are united which is so important."

And she said to another woman who lost her 26-year-old son 12 years ago when he was shot in a case of mistaken identity: "It is so terrible, so many lives destroyed.

"It is good that you all talk and support each other. It is so important to talk."

There have been more than 350 innocent victims of the Napoli Camorra over the last 30 years - people with no links to organised crime whatsoever - while the extended death toll runs into the thousands.

The deputy mayor of Naples, Raffaele del Giudice, said: "This is a site of great symbolic significance because it was taken from a Camorra boss and turned into a social centre. It represents the fight against criminality and all forms of violence."

When the Duchess first arrived she stopped to view a fresco displaying a number of mafia symbols, including a headless woman - as females are deemed only useful for procreation - a peacock, which is a symbol of vanity, and a snake.

In the kitchen, she chatted to young adults with learning disabilities who had created a beautiful selection of canapes.

They were all involved with Orsa Maggiore, a social co-operative engaged in social and educational work with vulnerable people.

When she questioned one girl about her favourite Italian food and was told it was gnocchi, a type of dumpling, Camilla replied: "Gnocchi is my favourite too."

The Duchess asked an NGO representative whether the organised crime situation in Naples was improving and was told: "Yes, but there is still a long way to go."

Before she left, the royal guest put on her sunglasses for an open air fashion show featuring products made by former victims of human trafficking - and warmly applauded the models before posing with them for a group photograph.