Human and animal world overlap causing rise of deadly diseases, Charles warns

The royal couple were hosting a charity event to raise funds for conservation projects.

The increasing overlap of the human and animal world is in part responsible for the rise of deadly diseases like coronavirus, the Prince of Wales has warned.

Watched by his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, Charles said: “The last year has shown us more than ever the importance of dealing with issues like this.”

He was speaking at Lancaster House on behalf of two of his charities – Elephant Family and the British Asian Trust – which combined to host a glamorous fundraising event, A Starry Night In The Nilgiri Hills.

Katherine Jenkins at the A Starry Night In The Nilgiri Hills charity event
Katherine Jenkins was among the guests at the star-studded charity event (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Celebrities including Lily Cole, Laura Whitmore, Amber and Yasmin Le Bon and – surprisingly – reality television star Gemma Collins, were among the guests, and there were performances by Katherine Jenkins and Tom Odell.

Earlier, Charles and Camilla entertained guests at a private reception at Clarence House before walking through the connecting door to Lancaster House next door, Camilla elegant in a pale green Anna Valentine three quarter-length tunic and trousers.

They greeted supporters before taking their seats inside a Raj tent erected on the lawn for an outdoor screening of The Year The Earth Changed, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

The documentary, presented by the BBC Natural History Unit and Apple TV+, shows how nature has benefitted from global lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

The royal viewers were handed brightly painted Tiffin tins filled with an array of delicacies including olives and crudites to enjoy during the 40-minute screening.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the A Starry Night In The Nilgiri Hills charity event
Charles and Camilla arrive at Lancaster House (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The evening – which saw 280 guests gather, socially-distanced, outside – was the finale of CoExistence, a campaign by wildlife conservation charity Elephant Family, founded by the duchess’s late brother, Mark Shand.

Charles and Camilla, who are joint presidents of the charity, have been passionate supporters of its latest initiative which has seen the creation of 123 elephant sculptures by indigenous communities in the jungles of Tamil Nadil, which are being sold to raise money for its work supporting projects which enable man and elephant to live side by side.

The life-sized and uncannily realistic sculptures are made from lantana, an invasive ornamental weed introduced by tea plantation owners into the region, helping local biodiversity.

Some 110 elephant sculptures have already been sold, including to Cher, with the remaining 13 being auctioned on the night.

And with royal backing, the project has been so successful that more are being made in the hope of adding to the £2 million raised so far for conservation projects.

Charles and Camilla at the A Starry Night In The Nilgiri Hills charity event
Charles and Camilla meet Lily Cole at the charity event (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Camilla, who vowed following her brother’s death to help the charity he was so passionate about, said: “In 2002, my beloved brother, Mark, helped create the charity Elephant Family, to protect Asia’s magnificent wildlife.

“Over the past few weeks, Londoners have had the rare opportunity to see some of that wildlife – albeit in static form – on the Mall, in Green Park, in St James’s Park and in Berkeley Square.

“These magnificent, life-sized elephants have roamed – with a little help – from the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India, to the Cotswolds, to the heart of the city to raise awareness of the vital importance of healthy coexistence between humans and animals.

“They are a timely reminder to us all to live well with nature, wherever we may be.”

Collins was asked if she had seen Charles and Camilla before and said: ‘No. I’ve gone from reality to royalty!

‘What a lovely event, though, so beautifully done. I get invited to a lot of these things but I only go if it’s something I believe in and I’ve done a lot of raising awareness for Elephant Family.

‘I feel very glammed up. Valentino dressed me for the night especially.’

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