The Duchess of Cornwall led the way for the royal family as she donned a bespoke £38 face mask while visiting the National Gallery in London today.
Members of the British royal family, including Prince Charles, 71, and Camilla, 72, have not been wearing masks while venturing out on royal engagements in the last few weeks.
The decision not to wear masks on public engagements may come as a surprise to some because the royal couple would be more ‘at risk’ than younger members of the royal family such as the Cambridges or the Wessexes.
But today Camilla opted for a pretty Liberty-print face mask, made for her by couture designer Fiona Clare, which featured a bold peacock print, as she stepped out in the capital for the visit to the gallery in Trafalgar Square.
The bespoke mask, reportedly a birthday gift from a friend, cost £38 – £32 of which is donated to the Literacy Trust and My Dear New Friend, a new movement, created by Alice Irwin, that encourages children and adults to use the power of letter writing to build new friendships and help members of the community support each other at this difficult time and beyond.
The peacock print is not currently on sale from Liberty, meaning it’s likely a vintage print from the archives, thus pushing up the price.
Camilla appeared to be extra vigilant with the cover up today, opting to choose the mask in the street as she made her way to the National Gallery.
The duchess’s stylish blue Liberty print mask, which matched the navy blue shade of her dress.
The Duchess donned the pretty mask with a bold and bright peacock print, adding a pop of gold to her simple blue tunic dress.
Her blonde bob was styled in an impeccable blow-dry, and she sported a sweep of mascara to accentuate her eyes.
After an unprecedented 111 days with its doors closed, the National Gallery started welcoming visitors again on July 8 – the first major national art museum to reopen in the UK following lockdown.
Camilla complied with the gallery’s new rules for her indoor engagement.
All staff at the tourist attraction in Trafalgar Square now wear face coverings and it is recommended that all visitors do the same.
The royal met staff involved in the organisation’s Covid-19 response and reopening process during her visit today.
The number of visitors to the gallery has been reduced so that social distancing can be maintained during visits.
Meanwhile visitors are also encouraged to wear face coverings, for safety and the safety of other visitors and staff, although it is not mandatory.
Camilla told the Gallery’s chair Lord Hall, who was wearing a clear visor, and gathered staff: ‘You’re the first gallery to open.
‘I think it’s brilliant. Hopefully it’s going to inspire a lot of others to follow you on.
She prompted laughter as she pointed at her fabric mask and added: ‘If anybody can hear me through this… Anyway congratulations to all of you.’
Members of the royal family have had to adapt to an unprecedented change in the way they carry out royal duties during the coronavirus pandemic.
Public appearances were swapped for online video calls as the Windsors followed the rules and stayed at home, but in recent weeks the royals have been carrying out socially distanced engagements.
The Prince of Wales contracted the Covid-19 disease, but isolated from Camilla, who did not catch the virus.
The Duke of Cambridge was pictured in a surgical mask when he visited the Oxford Vaccine Group’s facility in June to see work being done to find a vaccine.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex have also both seen wearing masks as they volunteered during lockdown.
Camilla also visited Boots’ Piccadilly Store to hear about their support of the charity Hestia’s Safe Spaces programme for victims of domestic violence.
Today marked the first occasion Camilla, who returned to in-person engagements last month, has been seen in a mask.
Prince Charles and Camilla have undertaken a host of public engagements over the past week as they travelled to Cornwall for their annual trip.
While the couple maintained social distancing at each engagement, neither the Prince of Wales or the Duchess opted to wear face coverings during the appearances, despite both falling into the ‘at risk’ age bracket.
Ahead of her trip to the dukedom, the Duchess also met with the Chelsea Pensioners at the Royal Hospital Chelsea last week.
Many of the pensioners wore a form of face coverings for the royal occasion, while Camilla opted not to wear a mask for the visit.
The decision by the British royal family not to wear masks during public engagements has been in stark contrast to the attitude undertaken by their European counterparts.
Queen Letizia and King Felipe have frequently worn medical masks during recent engagements, as they tour Spain to help support economic, social and cultural activity after the outbreak.
Their children Princess Leonor, 14, and Princess Sofia, 12, who have joined them for a host of occasions, have also been seen donning the coverings.
And they’re not the only royals to have opted to wear masks during royal visits.
Queen Mathilde, who is known for her love of bright colours and vibrant outfits, has been experimenting with face masks during her past few weeks of engagements.
The Belgium royal has often co-ordinated her mask with her colourful dresses for royal occasions, including while visiting a residential care center ‘La Maison de Mariemont this week.
The Queen, along with husband King Philippe of Belgium, and their children Princess Elisabeth of Belgium and Prince Gabriel of Belgium each donned masks while attending the National Parade in the front of the Royal palace.
It comes as the UK government toughened its stance on the wearing of face coverings in public places.
Passengers have had to use them on public transport since June 15 and they were made compulsory in shops and supermarkets in England on July 24.
Rule breakers will be hit with a £100 which can be reduced to £50 if paid within a fortnight.