The Duchess of Cornwall used a sausage to trump the saying you should never work with animals – as she unveiled a plaque with the help of her dog Beth.

The treat was tied around a rope attached to a curtain covering the sign commemorating Camilla’s opening of a new facility, at the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Old Windsor centre.

The duchess said: “Now they say you should never work with animals, and now, with the help of Beth, I’m going to attempt to unveil a building with the help of a dog.”

Laughing as Beth grabbed the sausage and pulled, Camilla cheered “brilliant” as the curtain fell away, and she quipped about her pet: “Anyone would think you’ve never been fed.”

The showbusiness adage “never work with children or animals” has been attributed to the entertainer WC Fields.

The duchess also told the guests: “Thank-you very much for asking me to come and open these kennels today. I’m extremely touched that they have been called after me.

“So every time I come here I’ll be able to look at my very own kennels, hence the Duchess of Cornwall Kennels. I would also like to thank everybody, everybody here, because I know how tough Covid has been for all of you.

“Hopefully with the vaccine etc, we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so things will start to improve.

“But I suspect as they do, more and more dogs and cats will start coming in and you’re going to be busier than ever. So these kennels are going to be worth their weight in gold. And they’re pretty luxurious kennels. I wouldn’t mind spending a night in them.”

The facilities are focused on reducing stress and infections for mothers and puppies and feature four heated blocks, each with a chill-out room where staff and volunteers can spend time with the dogs, dedicated puppy kennels and a separate maternity area.

Innovative elements include sensory plants and the use of different types of music to help the dogs stay relaxed.

The Duchess with her her jack-russell terrier. Steve Parsons/PA
The duchess was assisted by her Jack Russell terrier Beth (Steve Parsons/PA)

Camilla last visited the Old Windsor centre in February 2017 when she was announced as the animal rescue charity’s royal patron.

Her two Jack Russell terriers, Beth and Bluebell, were both adopted from the charity, and she revealed Bluebell had been left in the car for her latest visit after hurting her leg.

After meeting some of the canine residents during a tour of the facilities, Camilla handed over festive gifts from her pets from the Buckingham Palace Royal Collection shop, including dog toys, a collar, a bandana and a corgi Christmas decoration.