Doodling duchess reveals childhood love of drawing horses everywhere

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·3-min read

The Duchess of Cornwall has revealed how she spent her entire childhood doodling horses, ahead of the start of her own book club.

Camilla chatted with author and illustrator Charlie Mackesy about their shared love of drawing the animals.

Mackesy’s best-selling book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse caught the imagination of many during the pandemic.

The conversation came in the run up to the start of The Reading Room next week, which Camilla is launching to create an online hub for literature lovers.

The titles in the club’s first winter season are being kept under wraps until January 15. New books will be added each season.

Avid reader Camilla told Mackesy she wished she had done more drawing in lockdown, but said she had focused on reading instead.

Praising his book, the duchess said: “I’ve read it so many times. It’s an easy read but it’s a deep read at the same time.

“And I just love your drawings. I’ve spent my whole life as a child doodling horses.”

The writer replied: “Have you? Me too! That’s what I always do.”

The duchess added: “I used to do it everywhere, but mine unfortunately, haven’t turned out like yours.”

Mackesy reassured the duchess that that did not matter, telling her how he used to volunteer, teaching a group of 80-year-olds who insisted they could not draw.

He added: “I said, ‘Well, you can, it’s just you can’t draw like other people.

“‘But does that matter to you? Why not just draw like only you could draw and then try and accept that’.

“And once they’d understood that, that their drawings needn’t be as the same as others, they were unstoppable, these people.”

Camilla, a keen rider who used to hunt, shares a love of horses with the Queen.

The duchess is a regular at the Cheltenham races and the president of the Ebony Horse Club – a riding charity.

She also spoke of her wish to have done a lot more drawing while staying at home.

“Probably in these lockdowns, I should have just sat down and tried to do a lot more drawing and I just actually immersed myself into books,” she said.

Mackesy has lent his support to The Reading Room, writing the duchess a note – complete with illustrations – asking her what he could do to help.

Camilla requested a special illustration and he created The Reading Room Owl –  a bespectacled owl reading a book.

The duchess was encouraged to set up her online reading room after the positive response to her reading lists published at Easter and during the summer.

Books chosen by Camilla ranged from the modern fantasy novel The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman, which she called “storytelling at its best”, to A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

The duchess holds seven patronages related to literature, including the National Literacy Trust, and has presented the prestigious Booker Prize for a number of years.