Home » Duchess of Cornwall visits ‘I Am’ photography exhibition in Manchester 

Duchess of Cornwall visits ‘I Am’ photography exhibition in Manchester 

by Press room

It’s not easy to outdo a royal when it comes to stylish wardrobes, but the Duchess of Cornwall more than met her match in Manchester today as she posed alongside exuberant carnival performers. 

The Duchess of Cornwall cut a stylish figure in tartan as she visited a photography exhibition before heading to a pre-Jubilee celebration at the Emmaus Mossley Homelessness Charity in the Ashton-under-Lyne area of the city. 

The latter offered Camilla a giant tea party – with the finest china – and a welcome party that included an enormous puppet, drummers and carnival performers in colourful attire. 

And the royal even picked up a bit of a bargain as she toured a charity shop in Mossley, admitting as she snapped up a Silver Jubilee commemorative mug for just £1.50 that she ‘collects’ royal memorabilia.

The eagle-eyed Duchess spotted the cup as she scoured shelves at the Emmaus UK shop, a social enterprise community which supports homeless people through education, training and personal development.

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Getting in the carnival spirit? The Duchess of Cornwall meets carnival performers as she attends a pre-Jubilee Big Lunch at Emmaus Mossley Homelessness Charity on Tuesday

Browsing a charity shop in Mossley ahead of the Big Lunch, the royal made the surprise announcement that she actually collects royal memorabilia and even picked up a royal mug for the princely sum of £1.50

Browsing a charity shop in Mossley ahead of the Big Lunch, the royal made the surprise announcement that she actually collects royal memorabilia and even picked up a royal mug for the princely sum of £1.50 

The future Queen's Consort appeared in jubilant spirits as she was greeted by drummers at the public engagement

The future Queen’s Consort appeared in jubilant spirits as she was greeted by drummers at the public engagement

Battle of the skirts! Camilla chats to a carnival performer as she arrives at the charity in Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester

Battle of the skirts! Camilla chats to a carnival performer as she arrives at the charity in Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester

Pressing the sizeable flesh! A gargantuan puppet extends a hand in the company of royalty as a slightly bemused Camilla looks on

Pressing the sizeable flesh! A gargantuan puppet extends a hand in the company of royalty as a slightly bemused Camilla looks on

The Duchess has been the organisation’s patron since 2006 and made it her mission to visit as many of its communities around the country as possible.  

She dived into the Mossley shop for a spot of bargain hunting declaring: ‘Ooh there’s a really nice teapot here for anyone who collects them. I wish I had a bit more time here. It’s a great place to get presents if you have the time.’

Spotting the mug, which had been produced to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, she exclaimed: ‘I see you’ve got a nice jubilee mug. I am going to buy that! I have a whole collection, believe it or not.’

Touring the bric-a-brac area, the royal also met the shop team and Emmaus Mossley volunteers and marvelled at the size and range of goods on offer.

‘You’ve even got a wedding dress, ‘ she laughed.

She was told that they re-stock every day. ‘See, I told you, plenty of bargains if you have the time,’ she told reporters.

The Duchess was in the area both as patron of Emmaus but also of the The Big Lunch, organised by Eden Communities, which brings millions of people together annually to celebrate their local communities.

This year, The Big Jubilee Lunch will be the official community celebration for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend

And sticking to the jubilee theme, she was greeted by performers from Global Grooves, including two operating giant, 14-foot high puppets to the sound of a lively band.

Global Grooves will be taking part in the official Platinum Jubilee pageant on Sunday June 5 and gave Camilla a sneak peek of their carnival-style performance.

She also shook hands with ‘Padmini’, its operator bending down to greet the royal visitor.

‘What. A lovely place this is and what a fantastic view,’ smiled the Duchess.

Camilla chats with Big Lunch companions, volunteers and Platinum Champion nominees over a cup of tea at the celebration

Camilla chats with Big Lunch companions, volunteers and Platinum Champion nominees over a cup of tea at the celebration

Young and old gathered for the traditional English tea party - with a very special guest - at the Big Lunch event

Young and old gathered for the traditional English tea party – with a very special guest – at the Big Lunch event

Still wearing their costumes, the carnival performers also joined the afternoon tea party, chatting with the Duchess as she mingled with attendees

Still wearing their costumes, the carnival performers also joined the afternoon tea party, chatting with the Duchess as she mingled with attendees

Inside, she toured the Emmaus workshop and met volunteers including David Kniveton who were upcycling and reupholstering donated chairs in preparation for Emmaus Mossley’s Big Jubilee Lunch.

Upstairs she briefly chatted to another group of volunteers making recycled bunting, before sitting down at several tables to chat to supporters, Big Lunch organisers and Platinum Champion nominees.

Camilla was so busy chatting with them that she never even got to take a sip of one of the many cups of that were poured for. ‘That always happens to me,’ she said ruefully.

‘Do you feel that people are rallying around now especially after lockdown,’ she asked one.

‘It’s just wonderful to get people back together again. ‘

She also teased George Hall, 74, from Mossley, who told her he would be 75 in May.

‘Two months earlier than me,’ she joked. ‘The trouble is that you just don’t feel it, do you?’

While cutting into a cake baked especially to mark the charity's 25th birthday, the royal thanked the organisation's volunteers for their service.

She added she was 'thrilled' by the gathering and hoped people would do the same for the Queen's Jubilee next month

While cutting into a cake baked especially to mark the charity’s 25th birthday, the royal thanked the organisation’s volunteers for their service.  She added she was ‘thrilled’ by the gathering and hoped people would do the same for the Queen’s Jubilee next month

The colourful iced cake marks the charity's 25th birthday; the thriving community for people who have previously been homeless houses 26 people who share communal facilities

The colourful iced cake marks the charity’s 25th birthday; the thriving community for people who have previously been homeless houses 26 people who share communal facilities

She also cut a cake to mark the occasion and, in an off-the-cuff, speech said; ‘Before I delve into this delicious looking cake can I first wish Emmaus Mossley a very very happy 25th birthday. I feel very very proud to be here today because I am patron of Emmaus and the Big Lunch and President of the Royal Voluntary Service, hence all these wonderful volunteers. 

‘So I am thrilled to get everybody here today to celebrate the jubilee weekend, when I hope you will be having an even bigger lunch on the day. The aim is 10 million people, that’s what we are hoping. It’s a lovely way to celebrate, it’s a lovely way to get to know your neighbours and two have a lot of delicious food and chat.’

The Duchess of Cornwall has been Patron of Emmaus since 2006, which offers a thriving community that is home to 26 people. Situated at Longlands Mill in Tameside, each of the 26 companions has their own en-suite bedroom and access to a range of communal facilities including a kitchen, dining room, lounge, garden and gym.

A right royal knees up: the Duchess looked to be deep in conversation as she joined different tables at the tea party

A right royal knees up: the Duchess looked to be deep in conversation as she joined different tables at the tea party

It provides help to people of all backgrounds, beliefs and genders who are experiencing homelessness. To join the community, individuals have to commit to working full-time in the social enterprise and they are provided with education, training and personal development to help them work towards a better future.

Peter Stewart, Executive Director of the Eden Project in Cornwall, home of The Big Lunch idea, said: ‘Today celebrates everything The Big Jubilee Lunch is about; people, community, connection – an opportunity to give back with a lovely sense of relaxed occasion.’

Royal Voluntary Service Platinum Champion nominees also joined in the fun, enjoying food and conversation together with Emmaus volunteers and Big Lunch organisers from the local area. 

Nominated for giving back to society, the invited nominees will find out soon if they have been shortlisted to receive a Platinum Champion award in one of eight categories to be celebrated at Big Jubilee Lunch events across the UK this June.

The Duchess of Cornwall pictured in Manchester city centre on Tuesday visiting The 'I Am' exhibition, a collection of portraits of 12 domestic abuse survivors - including a Chief Inspector and TV star - taken by photographer Allie Crewe

The Duchess of Cornwall pictured in Manchester city centre on Tuesday visiting The ‘I Am’ exhibition, a collection of portraits of 12 domestic abuse survivors – including a Chief Inspector and TV star – taken by photographer Allie Crewe

Earlier, the future Queen Consort, who turns 75 later this year, visited the north-west city to view a collection of 12 portraits of domestic abuse survivors by award-winning photographer Allie Crewe. 

Camilla has long been a passionate supporter of people affected by domestic violence and looked deep in conversation with the curators of the outdoor exhibition, which is the work of domestic abuse charity SafeLives, during the solo public engagement. 

The royal travelled to the north-west UK city this morning, and looked every inch the royal in a smart navy and green tartan skirt suit, as she browsed the photographs being shown as part of the city’s SICK! Festival which runs until the end of the month. She finished the look with a pair of favourite suede, knee-high boots and a collar-less shirt. 

Camilla also wore a Sabina sunflower on her left lapel, thought to be in tribute to murdered Sabina Nessa, who lost her life at the hands of Koci Selamaj, 36, in September last year.

The future Queen Consort pictured delivering a speech at a reception for the exhibition which is the work of domestic abuse charity SafeLives

The future Queen Consort pictured delivering a speech at a reception for the exhibition which is the work of domestic abuse charity SafeLives

In a speech at Manchester Central Library, the Duchess said: ‘The photographs are both incredibly moving and inspiring.

‘Moving because of the depth of pain and loss that the survivors have endured at the hands of those who claimed to love them, and inspiring because these photographs show us how survivors can, and do, take back their own identity and their own stories, which have too often been eroded and taken from them by the abuse they have suffered.

‘Part of the power of these photographs lies in the fact that the images are not of victims as we might have supposed but, in the words of one of them, ‘strong, feisty, brave survivors, changing the journey from victim to victor… making it smoother, shorter and never lonely’.’

Camilla said the stories she heard were ‘heartbreaking’ but ‘not, by any means, unique’.

She added: ‘I am so honoured to launch this exhibition and I wish it – and all the survivors who are gathered here – every possible success as, together, we seek to end domestic abuse forever.’

After delivering a speech to attendees, the royal was greeted by well-wishers outside, including one lady who gave her a bunch of red carnations

After delivering a speech to attendees, the royal was greeted by well-wishers outside, including one lady who gave her a bunch of red carnations

Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of SafeLives, said the work Camilla has done with the charity is ‘just phenomenal’.

She said: ‘The issue is really at the centre of her mind all the time; we see her raising it overseas and on other visits.

‘We always say this can happen behind any front door, on any street, and we hope when people see the portraits there will be something which will touch them and connect with their life, so instead of thinking about this happening to ‘those people over there’ they will think about it happening to us as a society.’

After delivering the speech to those attending the exhibition – including domestic abuse survivors – Camilla took the time to shake hands and chat with well-wishers before leaving in a royal car. 

Among the women whose faces are featured in the ‘I Am’ exhibition is Sam Beckinsale, who appeared as firefighter Kate Stevens in ITV show London’s Burning. 

The 55-year-old reflected on her own experiences of enduring domestic abuse, saying: ‘You may still be walking and talking, but the person you were has been annihilated.’

The Duchess looked delighted to chat with those visiting the exhibition, shaking hands with one masked fan

The Duchess looked delighted to chat with those visiting the exhibition, shaking hands with one masked fan

A young fan in a blue hat offers his hand through the railings, with Camilla bending down to greet him

A young fan in a blue hat offers his hand through the railings, with Camilla bending down to greet him

The royal offers a final wave to those who turned out to see her before leaving Manchester city centre

The royal offers a final wave to those who turned out to see her before leaving Manchester city centre 

Camilla, who turns 75 later this year, wore a smart navy and green tartan skirt suit for the solo public engagement in Manchester this morning

Camilla, who turns 75 later this year, wore a smart navy and green tartan skirt suit for the solo public engagement in Manchester this morning

The Duchess looked pensive as she prepared to address an audience at the exhibition on Tuesday

The Duchess looked pensive as she prepared to address an audience at the exhibition on Tuesday

Camilla wore a Sabina sunflower on her left lapel, thought to be in tribute to murdered Sabina Nessa, who lost her life at the hands of Koci Selamaj, 36, in September last year

Camilla wore a Sabina sunflower on her left lapel, thought to be in tribute to murdered Sabina Nessa, who lost her life at the hands of Koci Selamaj, 36, in September last year

The royal was seen flicking her hair away from her face as she listened to the exhibition's stories of women affected by domestic abuse

The royal was seen flicking her hair away from her face as she listened to the exhibition’s stories of women affected by domestic abuse

Camilla posed for a group photograph with survivors of domestic abuse and those involved with bringing the exhibition to life

Camilla posed for a group photograph with survivors of domestic abuse and those involved with bringing the exhibition to life

Camilla has been passionate supporter of women affected by domestic violence; she's previously said that she will continue to champion survivors in a bid to stop abuse happening

Camilla has been passionate supporter of women affected by domestic violence; she’s previously said that she will continue to champion survivors in a bid to stop abuse happening

Among the portraits seen by the Duchess was one of Chief Inspector Sharon Baker, 43,whose own life has been affected by five years of coercive control. A video she made detailing the abuse saw more than 130 officers come forward with their own experiences

Among the portraits seen by the Duchess was one of Chief Inspector Sharon Baker, 43,whose own life has been affected by five years of coercive control. A video she made detailing the abuse saw more than 130 officers come forward with their own experiences

Another portrait seen by the Duchess was one of Chief Inspector Sharon Baker, 43, whose own life has been affected by five years of coercive control. 

A video she made detailing the abuse she suffered saw more than 130 police officers come forward with their own experiences. 

Crewe, the photographer behind the work, said the intimate portraits ask people to ‘confront their gaze’. 

She told The Observer last month: ‘The men and women in these portraits ask us to confront their gaze, to pay attention to their trauma … A face opens the conversation. We challenge the values of a society that tolerates violence and turns a blind eye.’

It was revealed last week that the Duchess of Cornwall will appear in a special edition of Vogue magazine this summer to mark her 75th birthday.

Camilla’s photoshoot took place last month with a skeleton crew of magazine staff and palace aides, all sworn to secrecy.

An insider said the session had been agreed after several meetings between the Duchess and Edward Enninful, the British Vogue editor-in-chief. 

The source said: ‘Conversations have been ongoing for months so this has been in the pipeline for a long time. The timing has been carefully thought through and her 75th birthday felt like the appropriate time.’

Camilla is expected to feature on the front cover of the fashion bible, which has also conducted an interview with her.

The high-profile exposure will be seen as a major step towards establishing the Duchess as a future Queen Consort in the public consciousness.

The Duchess of Cornwall will appear in a special edition of Vogue magazine this summer to mark her 75th birthday. Camilla's photoshoot took place last week with a skeleton crew of magazine staff and palace aides, all sworn to secrecy. (She is pictured in a Vivienne Westwood gown at the London Palladium in 2013)

The Duchess of Cornwall will appear in a special edition of Vogue magazine this summer to mark her 75th birthday. Camilla’s photoshoot took place last week with a skeleton crew of magazine staff and palace aides, all sworn to secrecy. (She is pictured in a Vivienne Westwood gown at the London Palladium in 2013)

An insider said the session had been agreed after several meetings between the Duchess and Edward Enninful, the British Vogue editor-in-chief. (They are pictured at London Fashion Week in 2019)

An insider said the session had been agreed after several meetings between the Duchess and Edward Enninful, the British Vogue editor-in-chief. (They are pictured at London Fashion Week in 2019)

The Queen, who has said that it is her ‘sincere wish’ that Camilla is known as such when Prince Charles ascends the throne, is thought to approve of the Vogue project.

Another source said: ‘It won’t just be in the magazine but obviously very prominently displayed on the website, so lots of people will see this.’

It is understood that the Duchess turned down the offer of flying in a team of celebrity stylists to help with the shoot.

Her participation will be seen as a show of support for Ghanaian-born Mr Enninful, who has championed diversity during his five years at the helm of the magazine.

Last year, he took on the role of global ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, which was founded by Prince Charles in 1976.

And last week, Mr Enninful hosted a gala event for the charity in New York, attended by supermodels Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, the Hadid sisters and Karlie Kloss.

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