It was a special day for Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on Friday, when she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Chester.
The Countess of Chester, as Camilla is known in the city, received a Doctorate of Letters in recognition of her work promoting literacy in both adults and children from the institution. She is a keen reader herself, and has worked with Radio Two’s 500 Words story-writing competition for children, as well as the Man Booker Prize judging panel, and is patron of the National Literacy Trust, Book Trust, First Story, the Wicked Young Writer Awards and Beanstalk.
Camilla processed with senior university officials into the cathedral, where she took her seat on the platform in front of the Nave.
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The University’s Chancellor, Dr Gyles Brandreth, shook Camilla’s hand as she received her doctorate, smiling broadly in her robe.
The ceremony, which took place at the cathedral, also saw some 500 students from the university graduate.
Founded in 1839 by the Church of England, the University of Chester pre-dates all but a handful of other English higher education providers and made national history as the first place in the country to be purpose built for the training of teachers.
The future Queen gave an address: “I want to begin by thanking you, Chancellor, for the Honorary Doctorate that you have just bestowed upon me. I am grateful, too, for the Public Orator’s generous words and for the wonderfully warm welcome I have received today.
“As Countess of Chester, I take great pride in my relationship with both this beautiful city and now with your University.”
She quoted one of her favourite authors, Lewis Carroll: “‘Always speak the truth. Think before you speak. And write it down afterwards’.
Dr Brandreth also spoke at the ceremony, and paid tribute to the late Keith Dodd, and also recalled how Prince Philip responded when he found out Gyles was to become an MP for Chester – he was ‘exasperated’.
Prince Charles has also received an honorary degree from Chester, back in 2007, and the Duchess has another from the University of Aberdeen, of which she is Chancellor.
It was then to the visitor’s book, which Camilla duly signed.
The Royal after attended a reception, with students representing some of the University’s public service programmes (teaching, nursing, midwifery, social care and policing), together with guests from the University, Cathedral, and the City of Chester.
Before she left, the Duchess met a small group of children from the University Church Free School in Chester, which is part of the University of Chester Academies Trust. The children presented her with a gift relating to their written work.