Camilla’s Country Life: books, Charles and the countryside

The Duchess of Cornwall’s edition of Country Life to mark her 75th birthday is out!

The magazine reflects Camilla’s passion for horses and dogs, as well as revealing her champions of the countryside, her most cherished view, and her favourite recipe.

A new picture of Camilla was featured in the magazine taken by The Duchess of Cambridge. (Country Life)

The Duchess of Cornwall opens her column by expressing how ‘delighted’ she was when being asked to edit Country Life and says the magazine makes her ‘feel positively young.’

Noting how Camilla has ‘cherished the opportunity to highlight some of the people, communities and charities’ that she has had the ‘privilege to encounter and who do such a great deal for life in our countryside’.

The Duchess spoke about the joys of being a Guest Editor as she has been able to trace her love affair with the countryside. Her love of the countryside began when she was brought up in rural East Sussex, where she grew up with her family and ‘beloved ponies’.

The Duchess of Cornwall grew up in the countryside (Clarence House)

Whilst Camilla is using her edition to showcase the efforts being demonstrated to maintain our countryside, the magazine also has a ‘darker side’ as she explores ‘the ever-increasing rise in rural crime, the struggles faced by family farms that can, tragically, result in suicide, and the uniquely difficult circumstances of those experiencing domestic abuse in remote areas.’

“The latter is a cause that is particularly close to my heart; I know that physical isolation is often used to advantage by perpetrators and that victims in rural areas find it harder to reach out to seek help, especially in close-knit communities where everyone knows one another and where support services might be more limited.”

The future Queen Consort also takes the opportunity to ‘celebrate our farmers, fishermen, butchers, bakers, winemakers, beer brewers and artisan producers’ who are the ‘backbone of the countryside’.

Camilla discusses how Country Life has been in her family for a long time, as her father wrote book reviews and her son currently writes for the magazine as well. She concludes her column by stating how a single day is more than enough to celebrate her 75th birthday, unlike Country Life who plans to celebrate throughout the whole year and ‘quite rightly so’ in her opinion.

Camilla paid tribute to Prince Charles in her edition of Country Life with a new picture. of him working on a hedgerow (Country Life)

The Duchess of Cornwall paid tribute to her husband of 17 years, Prince Charles, as one of her countryside champions. She opens by saying Charles is a ‘countryman to his very core’.

She notes how the countryside is ‘the place where he is most happy and relaxed, an integral part of his heart and soul’.

Camilla says he finds ‘true peace’ in ‘hedge-laying in the pouring rain, striding, like a mountain goat, up impossibly steep Highland hills, planting trees in the arboretum or pruning at Highgrove’.

She praises his deep and broad knowledge of the countryside, which ‘not only comes from books, but from hard-won experience, tramping every inch of the countryside’ and has been to listening and supporting everyone who works to protect it.

Speaking about Charles’ 68 countryside Patronages, she says they ‘provide a fascinating snapshot of the countryside, as well as being testament to his hard work and, about all, proof, if proof be needed, of my husband’s deep and enduring love for all things bucolically British’.

Camilla’s other countryside champions include:

– Jeremy Clarkson (star of the Amazon Prime documentary, Clarkson’s Farm, about farming at Diddly Squat) – he says he knows The Duchess ‘quite well’. He continues to say, Camilla is ‘good with people, good fun’ and ‘a great ambassador for the country, as well as the countryside’.

– Steve Benbow (Owner and founder of The London Honey Company) – he produces Duchess of Cornwall Honey, which is sold to raise funds for ‘Bees for Development’, one of Camilla’s patronages. He said: ‘On the occasions I have met HRH, she has shown great enthusiasm for bees and I gather that there is a healthy interest between her and The Prince as to whose bees product the most honey’.

– June Burgess (founder of Co Down-based, horse-assisted workshop company, Horses for People) – She recalls how’s Camilla visited the organisation last year and that ‘everyone was so touched and uplifted by her genuine interest. None of us had any idea that she would be so warm and engaging.’ June also noted how Camilla’s seal of approval gave her a personal boost that has inspired ever since.

Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, in a red coat dress with her hand on a pile of books to launch her Reading Room

Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, in a new photo to launch her Reading Room (Hugo Bernand/@ClarenceHouse)

As an avid book reader, Camilla also includes her three top books of all time:

– Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – which she describes as a ‘coming of age novel’ that keep her on the edge of her seat and ‘wiping many a tear’.

– The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard – she notes how if she were to be stuck on a desert island with one book, this would be it. Camilla says: “I have never met anyone who did not enjoy Elizabeth Jane Howard’s incredibly evocative writing, which immediately conjures up the long-gone days of rationing, telegrams that brought either great joy router devastation and agonising dental care.”

– Travels on my Elephant by Mark Shand – This was written by HRH’s brother who ‘charts his remarkable journey from the Bay of Bengal to the world’s largest elephant bazaar at Sonepar on the Ganges, on the back of a 30-year old elephant named Tara’. She notes how ‘his book reminds us all that elephants can cry – so keep a handkerchief handy’.

In 2021, The Duchess of Cornwall started her own online book club, which provides a series of recommendations for followers to read and enjoy.

HRH’s favourite view. (Royal Family)

Her Royal Highness also shared her favourite view – Lochnagar from Bovaglie. The mountain is around five miles from Balmoral.

Speaking about the view, Camilla says ‘the sight never ceases to lift the spirits and soothe the soul. And, sitting on a convent granite boulder, near the run-downs tradings at Bovaglie, lungs filled with that clean Highland air, there are few sights more stirring or beautiful. Somehow, the worries of the day-to-day world melt away, such is the power of this magnificent view’.

The cover for Camilla’s upcoming issue of Country Life has been released. (Country Life).

The 74-year old Duchess also speaks about growing up and ‘her idyllic childhood’. She says much of her childhood ‘was spent in the shadow of the magical South Downs. The names are ingrained in my heart…Ditchling Beacon and Breaky Bottom (which always made us laugh). And the chalk pit, almost opposite our house.’

She remembered how during the summer, she would gather wildflowers to press into their books. HRH notes how ‘still remembers the thrill of spotting the green man orchid and being forbidden to pick it by our very strict teacher – an early lesson in conservation’.

“Then there was the joy of riding our ponies, on languid summer days, up the chalk slops, and galloping through he gorse-covered paths into deep valleys, carpeted with willow head, campion and bracken. It’s that smell, the sweet heady scent of the South Downs, that will remain with me forever…”

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