Duchess of Cornwall confronts needle fear to help vaccine effort

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·6 min read

Watch: Duchess of Cornwall visits London vaccination centre

The Duchess of Cornwall had to face her fear of needles as she helped with the vaccine effort at a hub in North London.

Camilla, who is known to have a needle phobia, helped prepare some Pfizer vaccine doses at the Tottenham Vaccine Centre and visibly jumped when she saw a volunteer holding a needle.

She shook a phial of vaccine mixed with saline solution after she was invited to join in the process of getting them ready by Dr Russell Hearn.

The 73-year-old was surprised to learn that each bottle contained enough vaccine for six people, saying: "Oh there’s going to be six! Goodness, it looks tiny. I always thought you got a whole one."

She asked if any of the bottles had been dropped and was told "only one in 50,000" to which she replied: "That is pretty good". 

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visits Wightman Road Mosque in North London on April 07, 2021 in London, England. During the visit The Duchess heard about how the organisation has supported the local community through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Camilla at Wightman Road Mosque in North London. She put a scarf around her head and changed her face covering. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visits the Lordship Lane Primary Care Centre vaccination centre to meet staff and volunteers, and patients receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, on April 7, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla was shone how to get the vaccine ready for administering at Lordship Lane Primary Care Centre. (Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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During a tour of the vaccine centre based at the Lordship Lane Primary Care Centre she spotted a medical student volunteer holding a needle.

She stepped back saying "oh" but Dr Hearn said: "Don’t worry, it’s not going nowhere near you."

Camilla has had the first dose of the COVID-19 jab, and revealed that she'd received the AstraZeneca one. However she said she had not watched when it was administered, likely because of her fear of needles.

The duchess spent time talking to Dr Hearn about their vaccine success, with the centre due to give its 50,000th jab this weekend. 

She was invited to the centre by Mayor of Haringey, Adam Jogee, who told her: "It’s been amazing to see the hard work, the tenacity, the tears, the sweat that is going in to get everyone vaccinated.

"It’s a real pleasure that you are here to find out more about how we are getting our people safe."

Watch: Duchess of Cornwall visits London Islamic Cultural Society

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrives for a visit to meet staff, volunteers and patients receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, at the Lordship Lane Primary Care Centre Vaccination Centre in north London on April 7, 2021. (Photo by Geoff Pugh / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GEOFF PUGH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla was met by the mayor as she arrived for a visit to meet staff, volunteers and patients receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, at the Lordship Lane Primary Care Centre Vaccination Centre in north London. (Geoff Pugh/AFP)
Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall signs the visitors' book during a visit to learn how the  London Islamic Cultural Society has supported the local community through the coronavirus pandemic, at Wightman Road Mosque in north London on April 7, 2021. (Photo by Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla signed the visitors book at the London Islamic Cultural Society at Wightman Road Mosque in north London. (Chris Jackson/AFP)

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During her day of engagements in Haringey, she also went to the London Islamic Cultural Society at Wightman Road Mosque to hear about how members of the Muslim community are supporting one another.

Her visit came ahead of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, where Muslims will abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for four weeks.

She also donated Buckingham Palace corgi keyrings and royal stickers, which were added to Iftar boxes for child refugees observing Ramadan.

Iftar is the name of the meal eaten to break the fast each day.

Camilla wore a white shirt under a black caped coat, which won her praise on Twitter after photographs emerged of her visit.

Though she wore a medical face covering during the vaccine visit, she swapped it for a cheetah print face covering when she headed to the Islamic centre.

She wrapped a white scarf over her head at the mosque, and swapped her shoes for slippers.

Slippers worn by Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall  are seen during her visit to learn how the London Islamic Cultural Society has supported the local community through the coronavirus pandemic, at Wightman Road Mosque in north London on April 7, 2021. (Photo by Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla changed into slippers at the Wightman Road Mosque. (Chris Jackson/AFP)
Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (2R) meets members of the community during a visit to learn how the  London Islamic Cultural Society has supported the local community through the coronavirus pandemic, at Wightman Road Mosque in north London on April 7, 2021. (Photo by Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla chats to members of the community during the visit in north London. (Chris Jackson/AFP)

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Camilla helped packed Iftar boxes and was given a copy of the Qu'ran inscribed to the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince of Wales by Bibi Khan, the centre’s president.

Told the gift was in English she replied "oh good".

She then added: “I am deeply, deeply touched by this as I am sure my husband will be too. I would very much like to bring him here in the not-too-distant future.

“You are a shining example and I wish there were more places like this in the country bringing the community and all faiths together.

“I hope I shall be back again.”

Khan explained the centre was started in 1983 and started life in her late father Abdool Alli’s house. Now people from more than 30 cultures use it.

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (L) is given a tour by Sister Bibi Khan, (R) President of the London Islamic Cultural Society during a visit to learn how the organisation has supported the local community through the coronavirus pandemic, at Wightman Road Mosque in north London on April 7, 2021. (Photo by Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla was given a tour by Sister Bibi Khan, (R) President of the London Islamic Cultural Society during the visit to Wightman Road Mosque. (Chris Jackson/AFP)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall helps out assembling food hampers for those in need and to key front line workers in the community during a visit to Wightman Road Mosque on April 07, 2021 in London, England. Initially formed by a small group of Guyanese Muslims, Wightman Road Mosque now supports 30 different nationalities who have worked together serving the wider diverse community in Haringey and surrounding boroughs. (Photo by Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla helped pack some of the Iftar boxes, which will go to child refugees marking Ramadan. (Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)

Khan said: "We have been working with food banks and helping the community delivering food parcels. These are the people who do it, some are businessmen, but they really allow us to be able to utilise their services at no cost."

Sharing about the engagement on Twitter, Clarence House said: "The Duchess of Cornwall has visited Wightman Road Mosque to learn how the organisation has supported their community through the pandemic.  

"HRH was welcomed by Sister Bibi Khan, President of the London Islamic Society.

"Members of the mosque have helped those in need by distributing food hampers as well as providing counselling and advice to those struggling.   

"The Mosque was also the first to hold a pop-up vaccine centre in Haringey to encourage those reluctant to be vaccinated to come forward."

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall holds a vial of COVID-19 vaccine during a a visit to meet staff, volunteers and patients receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, at the Lordship Lane Primary Care Centre Vaccination Centre in north London on April 7, 2021. (Photo by Geoff Pugh / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GEOFF PUGH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla holding a bottle of COVID-19 vaccine at the Lordship Lane Primary Care Centre Vaccination Centre. (Geoff Pugh/AFP)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07: A toy Corgi given to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Wightman Road Mosque on April 07, 2021 in London, England. Initially formed by a small group of Guyanese Muslims, Wightman Road Mosque now supports 30 different nationalities who have worked together serving the wider diverse community in Haringey and surrounding boroughs. (Photo by Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)
A toy Corgi from Camilla in an Iftar box at the centre in London. (Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visits the Lordship Lane Primary Care Centre vaccination centre to meet staff and volunteers, and patients receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, on April 7, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla met staff and volunteers after being invited down by the mayor of Haringey. (Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Camilla's solo engagements in north London came just two days before she is due to mark her 16th wedding anniversary with Prince Charles, on 9 April.

They have been living in Highgate, Charles' home in Gloucestershire, for much of the pandemic, but have travelled into London or other areas for engagements.

Charles was pictured on a walk with his mother, the Queen, in the grounds of Windsor Castle over the Easter weekend.