Duchess of Cornwall believes more children should learn poems by heart

Duchess of Cornwall believes more children should learn poems by heart because it ‘makes them concentrate’ and will benefit them ‘for the rest of their lives’

  • Duchess of Cornwall believes the task makes children concentrate
  • Camilla named Christina Rossetti’s poem Echo as a favourite on the podcast
  • Chester University students produced it, where she has an honorary degree

Children made to learn poems by heart will feel the benefits for the rest of their lives, the Duchess of Cornwall believes.

In a podcast launched today, she claims the task makes them concentrate. ‘If you have to learn something by heart you look at it properly and don’t just read through it,’ says Camilla.

‘And I think it’s a lovely thing to store. You can have a little store where you have got all these poems in you for the rest of your life, and at some point, rather like today, you can bring them out and talk about them.’

Speaking to broadcaster Gyles Brandreth and actress Dame Joanna Lumley at Clarence House for the Commonwealth Poetry Podcast, she described childhood memories of reading with her father, Major Bruce Shand. Reciting lines from A Smuggler’s Song by Rudyard Kipling, she says: ‘It was about a child being woken up at midnight. I remember my father reciting it to us. He read the poem and we had to sing the chorus. And we all had The Owl And The Pussy-Cat. We all went to sea in our beautiful pea-green boats.’

The Duchess of Cornwall described childhood memories of reading with her father, Major Bruce Shand

Camilla, who names Christina Rossetti’s poem Echo as a favourite, reflects on the success of her Reading Room project, which, she says, many people had assumed would be ‘a total flop’. She adds: ‘It is a book club, something that I conjured up in lockdown. A lot of people wrote to me after I’d recommended a few books for them to read and it went so well and I got so many letters that I thought, why not start to put it on a bigger scale?

‘There were a few people who were convinced that it wasn’t going to go anywhere and it would be a total flop, but luckily I’ve been able to prove them wrong.’

The Duchess of Cornwall placed copies of some of her favourite books in a red phone box library at the tiny library exchange in Abergeldie in rural Aberdeenshire earlier this year

The podcast, part of a series featuring Commonwealth authors, was produced by students at Chester University, where the Duchess, as the Countess of Chester, holds an honorary degree.

Camilla will also open the Daily Mail-sponsored Chalke Valley History Festival, at Broad Chalke, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, on June 20.

l The Commonwealth Poetry Podcast is available from today on commonwealthpoetrypodcast.co.uk and on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music. 

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