Camilla serves up bangers and mash and makes friends with a ‘serious reindeer’

The Duchess of Cornwall served up bangers and mash while treating sick children to a surprise meeting with Santa’s reindeer at a magical Christmas lunch.

The excited youngsters, who are supported by two of Camilla’s charities, Helen and Douglas House Children’s Hospice and the Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, took turns to feed “Dancer and Blitzen” handfuls of grub in the garden after enjoying a festive feast in the dining room inside.

One little girl, Lara, held the duchess’s hand and looked at the animals in wonder.

‘A reindeer, a serious reindeer!’ She exclaimed.

‘Yes a serious reindeer,’ Camilla chuckled, as she encouraged the youngster to stroke it.

‘He tickles!’ the little girl squealed.

‘Yes, I would love to feed him too,’ the royal said as she stretched out her hand.

Camilla told them the annual event always signalled “the start of Christmas”.

The Duchess said: “I haven’t thought about it before today, but I come in and see the tree and the children and everything and it just gets me in a Christmas mood.”

One of the invited children Jasper Grannum, from Chalfont St Giles, was thrilled when Camilla offered him a second helping of his favourite sausage and mash.

The 12-year-old Chelsea FC fan suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting condition, said: She’s a beautiful lady.”

Asked if she was his new best friend, he added: “Probably.”

His proud mum Nicola said: “He was diagnosed when he was two and lost the ability to walk when he was 11. He loves his sports and used to play football, but now he plays wheelchair football.”

Jasper goes to Helen and Douglas House hospice for respite care, giving his family, including a nine-year-old sister, a break from 24-hour care.

Nicola said: “He has been going for two or three years now and he loves it. The nurses there are incredible.

“The Duchess has been so lovely, she’s a very warm person. Jasper has been really looking forward to coming and it’s been wonderful.”

Camilla, who is patron of both charities, invited the children and their families to her official London home to help her celebrate the “wonderful event”.

The royal enjoyed playing with the children and helping them decorate a Christmas tree with brightly coloured ornaments.

After the lunch the duchess handed out goodie bags and told the children and their parents: "I hope you’ve all enjoyed your lunch today.

"I’ve got a surprise for you all outside, but before we go out I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas.

"The tree decorating for me is always the start of Christmas."

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