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Duchess of Cornwall to take on new role as she celebrates her 70th birthday

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 6 days ago By Hannah Furness, Royal Correspondent

Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall © Mario Testino/PA Wire/PA Images Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall As the Duchess of Cornwall celebrates her 70th birthday, she could well be forgiven for occasionally putting her feet up like the majority of her retired contemporaries. 

Not much chance of that, it appears, as it is announced she is to take on a new patronage championing older people.

In addition to some 90 charities and organisations she already represents, the Duchess will also lend her experience to a helpline to combat loneliness in older age.

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She joins the Prince of Wales in becoming an influential voice for older people, after he last week spoke out for the forgotten would-be workers aged over 50 who struggle unnoticed to find employment.

The Royal couple are pictured together in a new portrait, marking the Duchess' 70th birthday.

They were photographed by Mario Testino in the morning room at Clarence House during a shoot in May, looking relaxed and happy as they smile for the camera side-by-side.

The Duchess is captured for posterity in a navy blue dress coat with white embroidery by Fiona Clare, while the Prince wears a coordinating dark blue suit, shirt and tie.

Testino paid tribute to the Duchess, describing her as “a kind and beautiful person with a wonderful sense of humour” after working with her again.

Related gallery: Prince Charles and Camilla's 47-year romance (Provided by People)

<p>Prince Charles first met Camilla Shand in a meeting arranged by mutual friend, Lucia Santa Cruz, at a polo match in 1970. The two had an instant connection: "He loved the fact that she smiled with her eyes as well as her mouth, and laughed at the same silly things as he did. He also liked that she was so natural and easy and friendly, not in any way overawed by him, not fawning or sycophantic. In short, he was very taken with her, and after that first meeting he began ringing her up," royal biographer Penny Junor wrote in her new book, The Duchess: The Untold Story.</p> All the Twists and Turns of Prince Charles and Camilla's 47-Year Romance The photographer was among several hundred guests invited to a Clarence House garden reception to acknowledge those the Duchess works with, from former Royal household staff to charity leaders.

A fellow party guest Dame Esther Rantzen has announced the Duchess is to be patron of her charity The Silver Line, with her 70th birthday placing her in the perfect position to help.

Dame Esther said: “The Duchess has an understanding and empathy for older people who are so often forgotten and undervalued in today’s busy world.  

“She cares about them, and values them as we do.”

The Prince, too, has recently used his platform to speak up for older people, presenting awards to entrepreneurs over 50 during a visit to Wales last week.

Speaking at Prime Cymru, the Prince’s initiative for “mature enterprise”, he told an audience that the difficulties faced by older workers are too often forgotten.

File photo dated 05/04/17 of the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Hofburg Palace in Vienna © PA File photo dated 05/04/17 of the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Hofburg Palace in Vienna "Research shows that a person over the age of 50 is five times more likely to be made redundant, and eight times less likely  to find alternative employment than a person 18 - 30  age group,” he said.

"That's the extraordinary thing. People very often think it’s the other way round.”

Referring to the Prince’s Trust, which supports young people in finding careers, he added: "What I am very pleased about is to be able to help with both ends of the spectrum, if you know what I mean.

"Frequently people don't realise the over-50s are in these difficult situations. Bespoke services for the 50+ age group, to assist with addressing their often multiple barriers, is not always so easy to find.

"Which is another reason, ladies and gentlemen, why Prime Cymru I think is of such importance."

The Prince and Duchess are understood to be celebrating her birthday privately with family, following a party at Highgrove for friends on Saturday night.

Though most women her age have long retired, there is no expectation in Royal circles that the Duchess will change her workload following the landmark birthday, continuing charity work in areas including children’s literacy, women’s empowerment and cancer care.

Her portfolio of charities will remain around the same size in the foreseeable future, a Royal source confirmed, with no sense of slowing down as she aids the Prince in his public duties. Both will join the wider Royal family in supporting the Queen and representing her in public engagements as the Duke of Edinburgh retires in the autumn.


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