Children help Camilla decorate tree

The Duchess of Cornwall had help decorating her Christmas tree from 12 youngsters with life-limiting illnesses - and a Guards officer's sword.

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Maya Czerminska helps the Duchess of Cornwall decorate a Christmas Tree at Clarence House during an annual reception for youngsters and their carers from Helen and Douglas House (PA)

The Duchess of Cornwall had help decorating her Christmas tree from 12 youngsters with life-limiting illnesses - and a Guards officer's sword.

Armed with the fearsome weapon, Lieutenant Frederick Lloyd George gently placed a bauble on the fir as the spellbound children and teenagers watched.

Camilla was hosting her annual reception for youngsters and their carers from Helen and Douglas House, a charity based in Oxford which provides respite support and end-of-life care.

In Clarence House a locally sourced sustainable Christmas tree had been partially decorated and on a nearby table miniature crackers, trees, stockings and other baubles lay waiting for the children.

Dressed in his scarlet tunic and bearskin, Lt Lloyd George, an assistant equerry to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess, received a round of applause when he lifted the decoration into place with his gleaming sword.

The officer, from the Welsh Guards, even let some of the children try on his large bearskin and when Sam Bailey, 16, who has muscular dystrophy, donned the famous headgear, Camilla, who is patron of Helen and Douglas House, said: "We've got a perfect fit."

The teenager, who is studying a Btec in IT, said after meeting the Duchess: "She's very polite and a very nice person, my friends might be a bit jealous when I tell them."

The Duchess spent time chatting to all the children and their parents and carers and they were served lunch, which included sweet treats and sandwiches.

She bent down to speak to five-year-old Maya Czerminska who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and uses a motorised wheelchair.

The little girl was wearing a tiara and Duchess exclaimed "We've got a little princess".

She was joined by her parents Ania and Marcin Czerminska, from Olney, Bucks and her mother said about being invited to Clarence House: "It's a once-in-a-lifetime occasion."

Tom Hill, chief executive of Helen and Douglas House, said: "Coming here is a fabulous opportunity for families.

"Within our work, memories are so important. Can you imagine over the Christmas period sharing a photo of today's event with grandma and grandpa, then in years to come, when the children are no longer at the Christmas table, having these memories (will be important)."