Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, did a spot of bargain Christmas shopping when she visited a London charity shop yesterday (13.12.07).

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Camilla browsed round the Emmaus charity shop in West Norwood, south London, before purchasing two vases and a thesaurus for just UKP3.50.

Earlier that day, Camilla had visited the nearby Emmaus Community – a 25-bed facility for homeless people which opened in October. The duchess enjoyed a cup of tea and chatted to residents, staff, supporters and volunteers, before heading to the shop, which raises finds to support the facility.

Volunteer shop assistant Nora Riffi told the Daily Mail: “It was very nice. I just treated her like I do the general public. But it was special. With the little time she had she could not spend that much.”

Camilla became patron of Emmaus UK last year after visiting their community in Bristol.

Charity president and former Beirut hostage Terry Waite said: “Christmas can be difficult for people living far away from their families. I had four Christmases totally alone in captivity and it’s not very nice.

“When people meet the Duchess of Cornwall they are very, very pleasantly surprised at how relaxed she is and at how good she is at talking to ordinary people.

“She has a great interest in people, particularly in those who have experienced difficulties in life, such as homelessness. Everybody was very thrilled.”

Camilla gave the residents a Duchy Originals Christmas cake, made by her husband Prince Charles’ organic food company.