Camilla told Emerald to ‘take over as her alter ego’
Emerald Fennell, who takes the part of a younger Camilla, joked she was relieved not to have been thrown in the Tower but the pair appeared to get on like a house on fire. In a speech, Camilla, 74, said: “It is reassuring to know that, if I should fall off my perch at any moment, my fictional alter ego is here to take over. So, Emerald, be prepared!”
The actress was one of 90 outstanding women invited to Clarence House by Camilla to celebrate International Women’s Day. They included Spice Girl and domestic violence campaigner Mel B, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, and Inna Prystaiko, the wife of Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain, who received a personal invitation after moving the Duchess to tears last week during a visit to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London.
In her speech, the future Queen Consort urged guests to speak to Mrs Prystaiko “about the heartbreaking conditions in Ukraine, where democracy and freedom are under brutal attack”.
She also acknowledged the advances made by women in Britain since the first International Women’s Day on March 8, 1913, from equal voting rights in 1918, to equal educational rights in 1944 and the right to equal pay in 1970.
But she warned: “There remain vast strides to be made – on the current trajectory, we will need more than 135 years to close the gender gap worldwide – but let us take a
moment to thank the women and men who have, for decades, fought hard for justice and equality. I should, in particular, like to thank all of you for your outstanding leadership that inspires women and girls across the globe.”
Camilla poses with the Women of the World Festival
The Duchess paid tribute to personal heroes including “Holocaust survivor and fearless anti-prejudice campaigner, Eva Schloss; taboo-breaking Irish author, Edna O’Brien; and the brilliant Erica Osakwe”, a survivor who has recently changed the law on the time limits on reporting domestic abuse incidents.
After meeting the Duchess, Ms Fennell, 36, said: “It was absolutely delightful, she is such an impressive person, it was fittingly nice to meet her today on International Women’s Day because she does so much for so many particularly female centred charities.
“I was nervous I might be thrown in the Tower but so far so good.
“She’s been in the spotlight for a long time and has always weathered it with a lot of humour and grace and good humour.”
Ms Fennell was invited because she wrote, co-produced and directed the 2020 film A Promising Young Woman, about the aftermath of a sexual assault.
Emerald as Camilla in Season Four
She and Camilla chatted for a few minutes but when asked about the conversation Ms Fennell remained tight-lipped and replied with a smile: “You know what I’m going to be very discreet, because if I’ve learnt anything it’s ‘loose lips sink ships’.”
She said she had not been able to do much research on playing Camilla in The Crown as there was little television coverage of her at that age.
Before her speech, Camilla spent 10 minutes talking to Mrs Prystaiko, who was visibly moved throughout the event.
The ambassador’s wife said: “In Ukraine we have always seen March 8 as a bright and tender holiday, full of flowers, sweet treats and most of all, happy women’s faces.
“Today there are no smiles and no peace, just horror and sorrow in the eyes of every Ukrainian woman, mother and wife.
She added: “Now we have to count the death toll of our people and watch their frightened, crying children who are forced to flee their native land with their mothers and sisters, leaving their fathers to defend our country.”
Camilla later hosted a second Clarence House reception for three women rowers, Kat Cordiner,41, Abby Johnston, 32, and Charlotte Irving, 32, who in January broke the world record for a female trio crossing the Atlantic. They did it in 42 days, seven hours and 17 minutes, shaving seven days off the previous record.
Greeting them, the Duchess revealed she had still not fully recovered from falling ill with Covid-19 last month.
She said: “It’s taken three weeks and I still can’t get shot of it. Probably my voice might suddenly go and I might start coughing and spluttering.”
In the end, however, it held out. She told the three women: “I have just been reading your story. Absolutely incredible. Did you argue?”
They insisted they got on well and had a great time on their journey from the Canary Islands to Antigua.