Camilla Reveals Passion for Collecting Books

BBC/Antiques Roadshow

Camilla, Queen Consort, discusses her choice on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow

Her Majesty The Queen Consort joined presenter Fiona Bruce for the latest episode of the BBC television series Antiques Roadshow, bringing in two items and discussing her interest in collecting books.

Filmed in Cornwall at The Eden Project last summer, Camilla presented a rare snuffbox from the Royal Collection made from Cornish silver mined close to the filming location. She then talked to antiquarian bookseller Justin Croft about her copy of Thomas Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard.

The Queen Consort described her love for the poem, first published in 1851, and particularly her interest in the book’s production, concentrating on its exquisite binding which was produced in 1899 by the Guild of Women Binders. This edition features a dozen color plates and frontispiece by English landscape painter Robert Willam Arthur Rouse (1867-1951)

"I've always loved the poem," she said, "and the edition has these wonderful illustrations. So it's captured both for me. The very special thing is its binding. It was done by women binders. They had a different touch to the men, it was slightly lighter if I dare say that... There’s something so tactile about it. I love collecting books. It’s one of my passions.”

The Guild of Women Binders was established in London in 1898, training new women binders who had studied at art school and helping those already in the trade. Its founder Frank Kerslake claimed all bindings were uniquely individual. It ceased operations in 1904.

Fiona Bruce said: “The Queen Consort was just terrific fun. She put everyone at ease and was keen to take part in the programme and chat to everyone. The members of the public that came along with their items that day got a bit more than they bargained for as they had no idea The Queen Consort was coming."

Her Majesty launched The Queen’s Reading Room charity on Instagram in January 2021 and it works to provide opportunities for the appreciation of literature among adults and children in the UK and around the world. In the Treasures from the library section on the website, the Queen Consort explores precious books and manuscripts from prestigious UK libraries.