The Duchess of Cornwall has spoken of the “exciting new prospects” ahead as her role takes on greater prominence – but confessed to nerves on big occasions.
Camilla’s candid comments are revealed in an ITV documentary charting her guest editorship of Country Life, and she says there were “a lot of laughs” and not much “make-up” when the Duchess of Cambridge photographed her for the magazine’s cover.
Asked if she found the new responsibilities “onerous” or “exciting”, the duchess told the documentary: “No, there’s always exciting new prospects, there is always something exciting round the next corner you never know what’s going to happen next.”
The programme features footage of Camilla and Charles as they prepared to leave for the State Opening of Parliament in May, the historic occasion when the prince stood in for the Queen at the event for the first time.
Candidly, the duchess admits to feeling anxious at times in her role, telling the programme: “I think everyone gets nervous before big events, it’s nature isn’t it?”
But she added: “I take a deep breath and get on with it.”
Camilla, who celebrates her 75th birthday next Sunday, was endorsed by the Queen earlier this year when she expressed her “sincere wish” that her daughter-in-law be known as Queen Consort when the prince becomes king.
The duchess praised Kate’s photography skills after she accepted the commission to shoot the Country Life cover picture, and another portrait of Camilla for the leader page of the magazine that asked the royal to edit the publication to mark its 125th anniversary and her milestone birthday.
Camilla: “She did really good pictures and you know she does it very naturally…we had a lot of fun doing it.
“It was very relaxed and of course very kind of the Duchess of Cambridge…she’s an extremely good photographer and it was all very casual, there wasn’t much hair and make-up – it was just done in the garden with a lot of laughs, no, it – was a lovely way of doing it.”
The 75-minute long documentary paints a varied portrait of the duchess who is filmed at official events meeting celebrity friends like comic Paul O’Grady, informally with her sister Annabel Elliot when they visit their grandmother’s former home, and even out walking her dogs at Charles’ Gloucestershire home of Highgrove.
Her two Jack Russell Terriers, Beth and Bluebell, both rescue animals from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, also feature in the magazine.
They appear on the famous Country Life frontispiece wearing the duchess’ pearl necklaces in a humorous tribute to the debutantes that were once featured in Country Life and affectionately known as “The Girls in Pearls”.
Charles is picked by his wife as her leading countryside champion and she has penned an article about him, while Jeremy Clarkson, former Top Gear presenter turned famer, is also been recognised by the duchess and features in the programme and magazine.
The broadcaster, friends with Camilla and her son the food writer Tom Parker Bowles, has become an unlikely campaigner for the farming industry after starring in the Amazon series Clarkson’s Farm, which follows his attempts to grow crops and look after livestock on land he owns in the Cotswolds.
The duchess says about Clarkson: “He made people realise how difficult farming is – I think some people see farming as cows sitting in the meadow on a beautiful day and they don’t realise the work and the difficulties that are behind it.”
Camilla’s public image has been transformed, from being cast as the third person in the Prince and Princess of Wales’s marriage to a campaigning member of the monarchy prepared to serve the nation.
Underneath she was the down to earth Sussex girl who grew up with a love of horses and happened to fall in love with the Charles.
Her friend Sarah Troughton, a first cousin once removed of the Queen, describes Camilla as having a “wicked sense of humour” who tells “very risque” jokes.
She tells the documentary: “I think there has been a wind of change in the duchess’ popularity, but I think it’s because she has been entirely natural, entirely straight with everybody, looks you straight in the eye, does her royal duties with real panache and style and the public are very happy to meet her.”
The duchess reveals in the documentary she loves sea swimming and does not mind the cold after the initial shock to the system and has a passion for gardening.
The programme ends with a final editorial meeting at Clarence House when Camilla casts her eye over the magazine’s pages and Charles – who has twice edited Country Life – makes an appearance for a sneak preview.
Articles commissioned by Camilla range from a piece about her favourite roast chicken dinner, recreated by John Williams, executive chef at the Ritz, to Paul O’Grady talking about his work with Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and a piece highlighting the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, which provides home security services for the elderly, disabled and victims of domestic abuse.
The duchess, who has championed victims of abusive relationships, says: “What I am trying to portray is however beautiful the countryside is, it’s not all buttercups and daisies, there are darker sides.
“So I wanted to put a little bit of an emphasis on rising crime, on domestic abuse, all the things that are going on without people probably realising it – so I hope I have got a good balance.”
Camilla’s Country Life will be screened on Wednesday July 13 at 9pm on ITV and ITV Hub.