Duchess of Cornwall meets WI Calendar Girls at garden party

The Duchess of Cornwall poses for a photo with the WI's Calendar Girls Image copyright PA
Image caption The duchess with the WI's Calendar Girls - who have inspired a host of imitations

The WI's Calendar Girls have met the Duchess of Cornwall as she hosted a garden party to celebrate the institution's centenary year.

The women, who famously appeared semi-nude in a charity calendar that inspired a hit film, joined Camilla at Buckingham Palace.

They were joined by thousands of Women's Institute (WI) members, at least one from every branch.

The duchess is a member of the Tetbury WI near her Highgrove home.

She was joined at the party by three other royals, the Countess of Wessex, the Duchess of Gloucester and the Queen's cousin Princess Alexandra.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Countess of Wessex chatting to guests
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Duchess of Gloucester was among the royals in attendance at the afternoon tea
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Princess Alexandra was also there

'The first'

Members of the Rylstone and District WI in North Yorkshire created the infamous calendar in 1999 to raise money after one of their husbands - John Baker - was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and later died from the illness.

Their story was immortalised in the hit movie Calendar Girls starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, and now Take That front man Gary Barlow is working on a musical based on their experiences.

Mr Baker's widow Angela, 69, who has since remarried, was one of six of the original Calendar Girls invited to the palace. She was played by Julie Walters in the film, and was the piano-playing Miss February in the calendar.

They all wore their trademark black dresses, string of pearls and a single sunflower - a flower Mr Baker grew before he died.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Duchess of Cornwall talks with the Calendar Girls (l to r) Angela Knowles, Ros Fawcett and Patricia Stewart
Image copyright PA
Image caption The women posed naked behind baked goods and flower arrangements for the calendar
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Patricia Stewart, seen here, was played by Dame Helen Mirren in the film

"It's just brilliant to be here with these ladies, all these fantastic WI ladies," she said.

"When we first did the calendar it was a big thing for me to do, John had just died and we were doing it in his memory and we've raised millions for (the charity) Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

"We never thought we would sell so many copies of the calendar, we don't mind people having copied us, but we were the first."

Image copyright PA
Image caption These members of the WI wished they, like the Buckingham Palace guard, had a strap to hold on their hats
Image copyright PA
Image caption Keeping hold of your hat proved quite difficult for some
Image copyright PA
Image caption Although this WI member seemed to have hers under control

The WI was formed in 1915, a year in to World War One, to rejuvenate rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food to help combat German naval blockades.

It was inspired by an idea from Canada and was first founded in the Anglesey village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll - famous for having Britain's longest place name.

Related Topics

More on this story