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The King’s Coronation: War widow recalls friendship with Prince Charles ahead of coronation

A widow whose husband was killed in action during WWII has recalled her friendship with His Majesty King Charles III, the former Prince of Wales, ahead of his coronation on Saturday 6 May.

Ena Mitchell became a member of the War Widows’ Association following husband Bill’s death, and formed a friendship with the then Prince of Wales.

Ena is now 104, and is the oldest resident living at Royal Star & Garter in High Wycombe. The Home provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia.

Bill, a Dunkirk and D-Day veteran, was killed in Belgium in 1944 when the Bren gun carrier he was travelling in to fetch supplies for his unit was bombed.

Ena went on to join the War Widows’ Association, and got to befriend the future King when he became its Patron. She said: “I met him lots of times, he’s been wonderful to the War Widows’ Association.

She remembers being introduced to Her Majesty Queen Camilla, formerly HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, by the Prince during a War Widows’ Association visit to Buckingham Palace. She said: “We were standing in a circle and he was introducing us to Camilla. One of our group told her she had four children when her husband was killed, and she (Camilla) was so kind and sympathetic. You couldn’t have met a nicer person.

Ena would meet the Prince on several occasions, including at official functions at Highgrove House and Clarence House, and remained in touch with him after moving to Royal Star & Garter. They would exchange letters and Ena added: “I also sent him a couple of architecture books I thought might interest him and got nice letters back. He is so friendly.

Ena was a prolific fundraiser, collecting money for charities including Royal British Legion, NSPCC and Children with Cancer. In the 1970s, she was part of a War Widows’ Association group which visited Royal Star & Garter at its former Home in Richmond. She said: “I was so fascinated and impressed that I thought that this will be the charity that I’ll really work hard for.” Over five decades, Ena has helped raise thousands of pounds for Royal Star & Garter, often asking for donations to be made to the charity on her birthday, instead of receiving presents.

Royal Star & Garter also has Homes in Solihull and Surbiton. Staff at the three Homes have an array of fun events and activities planned for the coronation weekend.

Royal Star & Garter in High Wycombe is welcoming new residents. For more information on this, or to work at the Home, go to www.starandgarter.org/hw 

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