The front cover of The Queen’s edition of Country Life has won the prestigious PPA Awards’ ‘Cover of the Year’.
The Award comes after it was announced at the end of 2022 that The Queen’s special edition of the magazine became its biggest-selling issue of all time, after selling nearly 70,000 copies.
The cover featured an image of Camilla taken by her daughter-in-law, The Princess of Wales, which shows Her Majesty in in the gardens of Raymill, her Wiltshire retreat. The photograph was commissioned by The Queen in her role as Guest Editor of Country Life to mark her 75th birthday last year.
Raymill has long been Camilla’s country home. She regularly spends weekends at the Grade II-listed house with her children and grandchildren, and it is just a short drive from Highgrove, Charles’ Gloucestershire retreat.
The cover image saw a relaxed and smiling Queen, wearing a blue and white floral dress and cardigan, sitting on a bench with a trug of pelargoniums, ready to be planted.
Camilla’s edition of the magazine reflected her passion for horses and dogs, as well as revealing her champions of the countryside and her favourite recipe. Her Majesty’s dogs, Bluebell and Beth, appeared on the famous Country Life frontispiece, (Country Life’s famous ‘girls in pearls’ page) wearing Camilla’s pearls.
Whilst Camilla was 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.’
In the magazine, the then-Duchess of Cornwall shared her favourite view – Lochnagar from Bovaglie. The mountain is around five miles from Balmoral, with a loch at its foot. It is a popular route for hillwalkers in the area.
The PPA award judges said: ‘This cover was crucial in setting the tone and becoming the centrepiece for what became the fastest selling issue in Country Life’s history.’
Paula Lester, Managing Editor of Country Life, recalled: ‘When Country Life’s editor, Mark Hedges, and I sat down with The [then] Duchess of Cornwall to discuss the issue that she’d be guest-editing to mark her 75th birthday, we had no idea who she wanted to take the cover shot. The Duchess said: “Yes, I’m thinking of asking Catherine.”
‘Mark and I glanced at each other quizzically—trying to think of a famous photographer called Catherine—as she clarified: ‘Catherine Wales.’ Ah, we said in unison, with Mark adding: “Yes, Your Royal Highness, I think we can work with that.”
‘It was kept totally secret, which was challenging. One day I received a message—while at the hairdressers—that The Duchess of Cambridge was about to call to discuss the shoot. “Hello, Paula—it’s Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge here,” she said. “I’m calling to ask what sort of images you are looking for on the front cover of The Duchess of Cornwall’s special edition of Country Life.”
‘I explained that we were after an informal portrait of the Duchess [Camilla], that showed her personality and kind, empathetic nature, as opposed to a posed formal shot. The Duchess [Catherine] said she would do her very best, but implored me to let her know if the images were not suitable.’
Mark Hedges, Editor in Chief, Country Life magazine, said: ‘Winning Cover of the Year is such an honour and it is entirely down to the excellent decision of our guest editor, now The Queen, to ask her daughter-in-law, now The Princess of Wales, to take the pictures. The Princess of Wales took a set of wonderful images and it was difficult to choose the best.
‘The royal editor had the final word and chose the picture The King liked best when he joined our final page-proof meeting. The award is an amazing accolade for what was already our most successful issue ever. The picture was used worldwide and continues to appear and will take its place in royal photographic history.’