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The Duchess of Cornwall celebrates the achievements of inspirational women from the Commonwealth

12th March 2012

The Duchess of Cornwall celebrated the achievements of inspirational women today at an event held to mark Commonwealth Day.

Actress Jane Asher, New Zealand soprano Hayley Westenra, and four of the five female Chelsea Pensioners were also present for the reception held at Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall in London.

The reception aimed to highlight the success of women from the UK and Commonwealth who are leaders in their fields or inspirational figures for their dedication to a chosen cause.

Commonwealth Day is celebrated every year on the second Monday in March.

The Duchess met figures from the worlds of academia, entertainment, law, and diplomacy, and signed the guest book at the town hall after chatting with members of the public.

The Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, Councillor Julie Mills - who hosted the event, described The Duchess as "a splendid member of the sisterhood", adding: "On the odd occasion, we're allowed to celebrate ourselves."

Hayley, the New Zealand-born classical signer, said: "We spoke about her trip to New Zealand later this year, she's looking forward to it which is very exciting. She suggested I could sing when she's out there, which was lovely."

Hayley added: "It's also lovely to meet so many high achieving women today."

Also attending the event was Dorothy Hughes, 88, who became the first female Chelsea Pensioner in 2009 after operating anti-aircraft guns in London during the Second World War.

Three hundred men and five women make up the Chelsea Pensioners, a retirement home for veterans of the British Army based at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.