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5 December 2022

Royal reception for Two Ducks

A businesswoman from St John’s has met the King and the Earl of Wessex at a Buckingham Palace reception.

Claire Leigh, who owns Two Ducks which sells fashion, accessories, homeware and gifts, was among 200 people from across the country invited to the reception, held to recognise the contribution of small businesses to the economy.

Claire, who was invited as a board member of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), was one of the few people in the room who met the King.

“I said, ‘can I curtsey, Sir? I’ve been practising.’ He laughed and said ‘of course’,” Claire said.

She mentioned Two Ducks and told King Charles that the dress she was wearing came from her shop.

“I said, ‘your Majesty, if Camilla is ever interested in anything nice to wear...’.”

“I thought I’d joke with him because he probably gets quite a lot of serious conversations.”

Claire and fellow BIRA directors had a longer conversation with Prince Edward, who was in attendance along with the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent.

“He chatted to us about our different businesses and how business was at the moment,” she said.

“He was really funny and was very relaxed and easy to talk to. He was very interested in what we were doing.”

Claire is a judge for The Gift Association, writes a column for Gifts Today magazine and has given interviews about business to the BBC Radio 4 Money Programme, BBC News and The Sunday Times.

She runs a WhatsApp group for small businesses in St John’s.

Claire said the reception served as a celebration of Two Ducks, which is marking its 10th anniversary next year.

The shop, which donates £2,000-worth of gifts to local schools and charities every year, hosts the monthly Woking Menopause Café, part of an international network of discussion and support groups.

“The reception was a really wonderful night to remember,” Claire said.

“It was really well timed as it’s pretty tough for retail at the moment.

“This was just the sort of thing we needed to boost us for Christmas.”

Credit: Woking News and Mail

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