Camilla: 'I was a pony mad child and Black Beauty was my favourite book'

The Duchess of Cornwall has sat down with Lord Dobbs to speak about the importance of reading to children as part of his Christmas guest editorship takeover of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

Speaking tomorrow (27 December) about her favourite childhood stories, the Duchess of Cornwall said she was a “pony mad child” and Black Beauty was her favourite book: “In those days I was a sort of pony mad child, and I thought of very little else apart from horses and ponies and charging about on them, so I think Black Beauty was the first book that stuck in my mind”.

The Duchess also told Lord Dobbs that thinking about the moment Black Beauty’s closest friend, Ginger, dies still makes her emotional: “I can see it now – there was Ginger. Every time I think about poor old Ginger with his head hanging out of the cart with his tongue hanging it makes me cry now, and I think that was possibly one of my favourites”.

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The Duchess said her father used to read to her and her siblings: “Another book my father used to read to us all the time because he loved a bit of adventure, was The Scarlet Pimpernel, and he became this great hero in all our eyes and I loved all the adventures”.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Picture: Eddie Mulholland-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Speaking about the books she bought her grandchildren for Christmas this year: “I have a granddaughter that’s very into Philip Pullman and she’s been through His Dark Materials so I think I got her La Belle Sauvage and the twin boys, one I got Dracula and the other I put onto Lord of the Rings…so those are the children’s books”.

Finally, on the importance of reading, the Duchess said “If you learn to read, however difficult your life is at the time, you can pick up a book and you can escape. You can laugh, you can cry, it just takes you out of the real world and it gives you a different dimension to life”.

The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of a number of literacy charities and recently launched The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room on Instagram for book lovers of all ages and abilities.

Listen to the full interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, guest edited by Lord Dobbs, tomorrow from 6am

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