The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of SafeLives, offered a detailed look into the Morning Room at Clarence House as she praised a ‘simple but brilliant’ new scheme to help victims of domestic abuse during a video call on Tuesday.
Camilla, 72, a long time campaigner on the issue, highlighted the Government’s Ask For ANI initiative, which is encouraging women – and also men – previously too scared to seek help, to go to their local pharmacist where they can discreetly seek assistance.
They can ask to speak to ‘ANI’ – code for Action Needed Immediately – and will be given a safe space, away from the public, to make calls and discuss the options open to them including contacting the police as well as domestic abuse helplines.
The codeword scheme is now up and running in more than 2,500 Boots stores and 200 independent pharmacies.
In the first three weeks of operating, one woman a day on average has been seeking potentially life-saving support and the Home Office is so encouraged that it hopes to expand it further.
Camilla was speaking via video call from her desk in the Morning Room, which appeared to be filled with royal treasures – including the Sortie de l’Eglise, Jamaique 1961 painting by Sir Noël Coward and a bust of the young Queen.
The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of SafeLives, offered a detailed look into the Morning Room at Clarence House as she spoke with the Charity’s Chief Executive during a video call today. Pictured: 1. Mid-eighteenth century giltwood pedestal with lights 2. A bust of the young Queen 3. Chelsea botanical porcelain collection 4. An eighteenth-century porcelain mantelpiece clock 5. Sortie de l’Eglise, Jamaique, a 1961 painting by Sir Noël Coward 6. Porcelain cockerel that once belonged to Queen Mary 7. Lady in a Pink Ballgown with Gentleman in Green by Walter Sickert 8. The then Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, by Mabel Hankey, dating back to 1908, 8. Trio of blue ornamental elephants, 10. Silver tub filled with red pens, 11. Framed photograph, 12.Silver tray, 13.Jug of tulips
The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of SafeLives, spoke with the Charity’s Chief Executive, Suzanne Jacob and Safe Lives Pioneer, Rachel Williams about the Ask for ANI (Action Needed Immediately) scheme (pictured)
And a closer look from the virtual engagement – combined with more detailed views offered by Google Arts & Culture’s virtual tour – reveals a few changes.
The most noticeable difference is the addition of the desk, which was absent when the Prince of Wales offered royal fans a look inside the same room last October, when Rebecca Beattie, 32, of York, was recognised with a Pride of Britain award, and on December 10, when a photo was released to mark the royal’s meeting with the UAE Crown Prince.
The grand wooden desk, complete with a glass-top finish, features a striking trio of blue ornamental elephants, silver tub filled with red pens, silver tray and a decorative jug of pretty pink tulips, along with a glass of water.
While it may just be out of camera shot, a photo Prince Charles and Camilla used on their 2018 Christmas card, which showed the couple pictured on a bench in their Clarence House garden gazing at each other, also seems to be absent.
Elsewhere, there are mid-eighteenth century giltwood pedestal with lights on either side of the mantelpiece, while a porcelain cockerel that once belonged to Queen Mary and was on display in October, but not in December, appears to have been put back in pride of place.
The Sortie de l’Eglise, Jamaique 1961 painting by Sir Noël Coward can be seen to the left of Camilla’s head, while a 1945 study for the Portrait of Queen Elizabeth as Royal Bencher of the Middle Temple by Sir James Gunn is to the right-hand side.
Other artwork includes a small portrait of the then Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, by Mabel Hankey, dating back to 1908, positioned on the mantelpiece, and Lady in a Pink Ballgown with Gentleman in Green by Walter Sickert, above it.
Two cabinets either side of the fireplace house a vast collection of Chelsea botanical porcelain, including a mantelpiece clock that once belonged to Queen Charlotte.
The most noticeable difference in The Drawing Room is the addition of the desk (pictured), which was absent when the Prince of Wales offered royal fans a look inside the same room last October, when Rebecca Beattie, 32, of York, was recognised with a Pride of Britain award, and on December 10, when a photo was released to mark the royal’s meeting with the UAE Crown Prince
Among the artwork include: Lady in a Pink Ballgown with Gentleman in Green by Walter Sickert (pictured left) and a small portrait of the then Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, by Mabel Hankey, dating back to 1908 (right)
A closer look at the eighteenth-century porcelain mantelpiece clock and the bust of King George VI, left, and the porcelain cockerel that once belonged to Queen Mary, which appears to have been placed back on the mantelpiece
During the video call on Tuesday, the duchess spoke in more detail about ANI to Suzanne Jacob, Chief Executive of the Safe Lives domestic abuse charity, of which the duchess is patron, and survivor and campaigner Rachel Williams, who devised the code.
Camilla, who previously spoke of her fears of an explosion of domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic with victims literally locked in with their abusers, asked: ‘I know the cases are going up and the calls are coming in but do you see a sign of improvement in the way of reporting it?’
Ms Jacobs told her that one of their priorities over lockdown had been to find new ways of offering support to victims and survivors, which prompted the Ask For ANI scheme.
‘All of those places opening up their doors, training their teams, being able to have an initial conversation with somebody,’ she said.
The Duchess asked: ‘So when you go into Boots and ask for “ANI”, are you taken into a room by a person and sat down and then you can discuss? It’s pure brilliance. It’s so simple yet it’s so effective.’
Ms Jacobs explained that the women who had sought help so far were from ‘all sorts of backgrounds and demographics’, demonstrating the desperate need for the scheme.
One of the women had apparently been in an an abusive relationship for 20 years.
‘And now she is in a space of safety. It’s a really simple thing but it can change people’s lives,’ Ms Jacobs told Camilla, who nodded.
A closer look at Sortie de l’Eglise, Jamaique, a 1961 painting by Sir Noël Coward, left, and the 1945 study for the Portrait of Queen Elizabeth as Royal Bencher of the Middle Temple by Sir James Gunn
The grand wooden desk, complete with a glass-top finish, features a striking trio of blue ornamental elephants (right), silver tub filled with red pens, silver tray and a decorative jug of pretty pink tulips, along with a glass of water (left)
Shockingly, it is estimated that one in three women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.
The first lockdown saw a spike in reported incidences of domestic abuse, with police recording 259,324 offences from March to June 2020, a 7% increase on the previous year and 18% on 2018.
In April, May and June 2020 roughly one-fifth of all offences recorded by the police were flagged as domestic abuse – and campaigners believe the figures are only the tip of the iceberg as so much goes unreported.
Rachel Williams was in an abusive relationship for 18 years before being shot and severely injured by her violent husband in 2011. He committed suicide afterwards, as tragically did her 16-year-old son, Jack, who was left devastated by the incident.
A dedicated campaigner on the issue, she works with the Home Office and devised the name ANI as it was something easy to remember and would cross cultures.
She told Camilla: ‘For me being in an 18 year domestic abusive relationship, I was always exploring ways out but not really knowing which way to turn. ‘
Pictured, Prince Charles with Rebecca Beattie (left) and Laura Whitmore (right) in the Morning Room on 27 October 2020
The duchess replied: ‘You have been such a wonderful spokesman because you suffered this terrible abuse yet you are prepared to get up and talk about it. I think that is what is needed. We need any army of Rachels!’
‘I don’t think my [now] husband would be very happy about that,’ Mrs Williams laughed.
Camilla promised her: ‘My heart is well as truly in it, so I would really like to do anything to help all these wonderful people. ‘
Ms Jacobs said there had been a 75 per cent rise in calls to domestic abuse helplines as a result of the pandemic, which she puts down both to more people being willing to come forward and seek help, as well as a rise in the severity and escalation of incidents of domestic abuse as a result of the pandemic.
But she warned that the continuation of lockdown was having a worrying affect on victims, saying: ‘This has been going on for almost a year.
Rachel Williams describes it as not just walking on eggshells, but walking on broken glass. The severity of that situation and the pressure on your mental health is very extreme.
‘The Duchess was very keen to stress the importance of people “reaching in,” helping those they fear who are at risk. She’s been phenomenal, she really has. This has clearly been on her mind the whole way through. You couldn’t ask for a better champion.’
The Prince of Wales offered royals fans a look inside the the Morning Room at Clarence House in a photo released to mark his meeting with the UAE Crown Prince on December 10
The Morning Room, where the video call took place, was once known as the Breakfast Room in John Nash’s original design for the Duke of Clarence in 1825, with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall moving in a year after the Queen Mother’s death in 2002.
It has seen some very special moments, such as the Christening photographs for Prince George and Prince Louis. And the the new photograph released today shows two hanging pictures remain in the same position.
Clarence House is attached to St. James’s Palace and shares the palace’s garden. For nearly 50 years, from 1953 to 2002, it was home to the Queen Mother, and is still largely decorated to her taste with a few modern touches.
Between 1949 and 1952, the Morning Room was used as The Duke of Edinburgh’s study.
The elaborate ceiling plasterwork shows Queen Elizabeth’s crown, and the large south-facing window looks out onto the garden.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s 2018 card, which showed the couple pictured on a bench in their Clarence House garden gazing at each other, appears to have been removed since December
The house was the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s home when they were first married and Prince Charles was brought up in the stately home by his parents until the age of three.
It served as the official residence for Prince William from 2003 until his 2011 marriage and for Prince Harry from 2003 until 2012, and is now the much-loved London home of Charles and Camilla.
When the couple moved in 15 years ago, Charles’s Royal Standard was raised above the 19th-century building where his beloved grandmother lived for nearly 50 years.
A major renovation project by Charles’ interior designer Robert Kime cost £4.5 million at the time, and was paid for by taxpayers from grant-in-aid set aside for palace maintenance.
Charles reportedly used £1.6 million of his own money for extras, and also paid for the decoration of two rooms to be used by his ‘companion’ and now wife, formerly known as Camilla Parker Bowles.
Clarence House displays much of the Queen Mother’s famous art collection, including 20th-century paintings by John Piper, Graham Sutherland, WS Sickert and Augustus John.