The Duchess of Cornwall to Open Chalke Valley History Festival

The Duchess of Cornwall Releases Summer Reading List
The Duchess of Cornwall Releases Summer Reading List Credit: Clarence House 2020


Monday 20th June 2022

The Duchess of Cornwall will introduce the first event of The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival, ‘Rediscovering Women in History’, a discussion between authors Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir.

On arrival, The Duchess will be received by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Mrs Sarah Troughton and welcomed to the Festival by Cllr Tom Hitchings, Chairman of Broad Chalke Parish Council, Mr and Mrs Richard Jowett, landowners of the site and Jane Pleydell-Bouverie, Chalke Valley History Festival Director. The Duchess will then be introduced to the Festival’s Board of Directors, including Festival Chair, James Holland, and Education & Operations Director, Rachel Holland. 

The Duchess will proceed to the Green Room where Her Royal Highness will meet Festival staff and trustees before moving to the Hiscox Tent. 

The Duchess will be greeted at the tent by Philippa Gregory, Historical novelist and Alison Weir, Historian and author. 

Her Royal Highness will then be invited onto the stage by Mr Peter Bell, Chair of Trustees, where she will say a few words to open the Festival and introduce the discussion between Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir. 

Following a brief question-and-answer session with the authors, Her Royal Highness will tour the festival site, viewing traditional rural crafts on display, archery, and colourful costumes. 

The Duchess of Cornwall and Literacy 

The Duchess is recognised as an important campaigner for literacy in the UK and internationally. As a grandmother, Her Royal Highness understands the joy of reading, but also the importance of literacy in creating life opportunities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited schools and libraries, as well as workplace reading schemes and prisons to see the work of adult literacy schemes. The Duchess has numerous Patronages in the UK including the National Literacy Trust, First Story, Coram Beanstalk and Booktrust. 

Last month, during the Royal Tour of Canada, Her Royal Highness visited Assumption School where The Duchess met Mr. Brian Warren, Founder and Executive Director of Start2Finish and showed her support for their Vending Machine project – which provides a new book monthly for each student in the school, for a period of three years. 

During Lockdown in 2020, Her Royal Highness published a list of her 9 favourite book recommendations over the Easter weekend, and shared 5 more in August. The hugely positive response to these lists prompted The Duchess to create an online space to continue this conversation, and in January 2021 The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room Instagram account was launched – a community space for book lovers to visit, and to see videos, photographs and commentary from some of Her Royal Highness’s recommended authors. The Reading Room has gone on to attract over 137,000 followers. 

In March 2022, The Duchess of Cornwall launched a website for The Reading Room. 

Reading Room | The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room (


The conversation between Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir at The Chalke Valley History Festival will be filmed, for release during Season 7 of The Reading Room later in the summer. 

Chalke Valley History Festival 

The Chalke Valley History Festival began in 2011. With almost 45,000 tickets sold in 2019 (pre-Covid), it is the largest festival in the world devoted entirely to history and the only festival to combine living history entertainment with literary talks and panels. This year’s series of events will take place from 20-26 June. 

Speakers have ranged from top academics such as Niall Ferguson and Ian Kershaw to best-selling historians Antony Beevor, Bettany Hughes and Andrew Marr. From stellar authors Michael Morpurgo and Jung Chang to television stars such as Monty Don, Dan Snow, and even Mark Knopfler. Most touching are the WW2 fighter pilots and D-Day veterans sharing their memories. 

All proceeds go to the Chalke Valley History Trust, a charity which promotes the understanding and enjoyment of history to the widest possible audience of all ages, but especially children. A key part is the two-day History Festival for Schools, which takes place during the festival week and offers pupils an incredible opportunity to hear a wide range of talks by leading historians. Pupils also have the opportunity to take part in hands-on living history. In 2019 a record 2,500 pupils attended, of which over half were from state schools and we are now developing an online programme for schools that are unable to attend the live festival. 

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