The Duchess of Cornwall had a helping hand when she performed a cake-cutting ceremony – a grinning little boy.
When Camilla asked if anyone wanted to help with her royal duties during a visit to North Swindon Library to promote literacy, nine-year-old Sebastian did not hesitate and jumped up.
The schoolboy placed his hand on the duchess’s fingers and they cut into the tasty treat – which was a recreation of a woodland scene complete with logs, a tree stump, red squirrel, acorns and a book.
Camilla was visiting the Wiltshire town in her role as patron of the National Literacy Trust, to meet the winners of the organisation’s Lost Words poetry competition.
Sebastian, who tried the cake after Camilla offered him the first slice, said: “It was pretty nice, it’s a sponge cake covered in chocolate with jam – it must have taken a long time to make.”
Author and illustrator Steve Antony, who drew the pictures for comic Tim Minchin’s book When I Grow Up, was also at the event.
The artist, who is patron of Swindon libraries’ children’s reading services and works with the libraries to encourage children to use them, was tasked with sketching a picture to accompany the duchess reading Come Into The Woods, a poem by Alfred Williams.
With glasses perched on the end of her nose and the youngsters sitting comfortably, she had them mesmerised as she said: “Come into the woods, the wild birds are singing, the white hawthorn’s scent wafts into the wind, the skylark is up and the sheep-bells are ringing, young pleasure’s before and old sorrow’s behind.”
Antony said: “I cannot even begin to say just how important it is for children to have access to a public library.
“One of the reasons I try to do as much as I can with the libraries is to make children and adults aware what’s on offer.”
The royal visit also marked the first anniversary of Swindon’s involvement in the National Literacy Trust Hub project.
Launched in partnership with Swindon Borough Council and funded by WH Smith, the initiative provides a range of programmes to equip children and young people in Swindon with the literacy skills they need to succeed.
Later Camilla visited the Lyndhurst Centre to meet foster carers and children benefiting from the hub project which ensures every Swindon child taken into care is given book tokens and a notebook.