Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall gives rare insight into childhood in deeply personal piece

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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 73, became the first member of the Royal Family to launch an online book club last week. Prince Charles’s wife has previously opened up about her love of reading and is patron of several literary organisations. To mark the launch of her Reading Room project, the Duchess traced her passion for books back to childhood in an illuminating new article for the Sunday Times.

In the piece, Camilla claims her late father Bruce Shand was instrumental in cultivating her a love for literature.

According to the royal, her father read to her and her siblings every night as children.

Camilla wrote: “My father was a passionate bibliophile who would read to his children every night. Life without books was, for him, a life not worth living. He passed his love of reading on to me.”

As well as touching on her father’s influence the Duchess described growing up in the Sussex countryside and how books transported her to another world.

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Camilla wrote: “As a child, living happily in the depths of the Sussex countryside, I travelled the world without ever leaving my room.

“From the dank cells of the Bastille to the stalls of Barchester Cathedral, through bleak graveyards, overgrown with nettles, to tropical beaches, empty save an ominous footprint.”

During the first national lockdown last March, Camilla shared a list of her favourite books with royal fans and was overwhelmed by the response she received.

The Duchess wrote: “The most moving letters were those from people who described how books had been their lifeline during lockdown.

“In some cases, their only company for weeks had been characters from novels. Not surprisingly, the sales of fiction rose by a third during the first lockdown.

“Reading was comforting us, making us laugh, taking us on journeys that we could not undertake in the flesh and, crucially, reminding us that we were not alone.

“We had found community in reading at a time when we were, sadly but necessarily, unable to be with those we love.”


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The reaction the royal got to her first reading list inspired her to launch another lockdown bookclub which was launched by Clarence House on Instagram last week.

The post read: “Season One of The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room launches today! @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom.

“Over the next eight weeks, The Reading Room will explore some of Her Royal Highness’s favourite books, in conversation with the authors.

Join The Duchess on what she calls ‘the great adventure’ of reading.”

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s reading list in full

Camilla shared a broad selection of titles for the first season of her book club.

The five books she has recommended are as follows:

1.) The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

2.) The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel

3.) Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

4.) Restless by William Boyd

5.) The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

Camilla and Charles are spending the current lockdown at their Gloucestershire royal residence Highgrove house.

The couple are expected to return to Clarence House in London once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

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