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Duchess of Cornwall tours Oxford University

The Duchess of Cornwall was hailed a champion of literature by Sir Philip Pullman during a visit to Oxford University today. 

Camilla, 74, joined the acclaimed author, famed for his fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, during a tour of the university’s historic Bodleian Library. 

The royal attended an exhibition to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy Of Melancholy. 

The Duchess, who has a keen interest in literature, was praised by Pullman, 75, for taking an active interest in the nation’s ‘greatest strength’. 

The Duchess of Cornwall was hailed a champion of literature during her visit to the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford today 

Camilla, 74, joined acclaimed author Sir Philip Pullman, famed for his fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, during a tour of the university's historical Bodleian Library

Camilla, 74, joined acclaimed author Sir Philip Pullman, famed for his fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, during a tour of the university’s historical Bodleian Library 

The Duchess, who has a keen interest in literature, was praised by Pullman ,75, for taking an active interest in the nation's 'greatest strength'

The Duchess, who has a keen interest in literature, was praised by Pullman ,75, for taking an active interest in the nation’s ‘greatest strength’

Later the royal opened the Marcela Botnar Wing, the university's newest Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Sciences facility

Later the royal opened the Marcela Botnar Wing, the university’s newest Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Sciences facility

Her Instagram-based book club the Reading Room has proved popular, she holds more than six patronages related to literature, including the National Literacy Trust, and has presented the prestigious Booker Prize in past years. 

Sir Philip said: ‘It’s a great thing that a member of the royal family should show such an active interest in what has always been this country’s greatest strength, which is its writers, its authors, its poets and playwrights and novelists.

‘It’s nice to have the recognition – this is an area of life which is important, it signifies something.’

The duchess was guided around the display by its lead curator Professor John Geddes and when he told her: ‘What [Burton] said about mental health was get outside, exercise, and reading’, she replied ‘all the things people talk about now’.

The Duchess of Cornwall was shown books in the Conservation Studio during her visit to the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library

The Duchess of Cornwall was shown books in the Conservation Studio during her visit to the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library

The Duchess of Cornwall and author Sir Philip were seen examining a book by Dr Martin Kauffmann, head of early and rare collections

The Duchess of Cornwall and author Sir Philip were seen examining a book by Dr Martin Kauffmann, head of early and rare collections

The Duchess donned a dark blue tweed coat paired with a royal blue dress styled with a white blouse featuring a ruffled collar and stylish pearl earrings

The Duchess donned a dark blue tweed coat paired with a royal blue dress styled with a white blouse featuring a ruffled collar and stylish pearl earrings

The Duchess donned a dark blue tweed coat paired with a royal blue dress styled with a white blouse featuring a ruffled collar and stylish pearl earrings 

The royal was in high spirits as she met students and library staff during her visit to the University's main research library

The royal was in high spirits as she met students and library staff during her visit to the University’s main research library 

The Duchess was seen writing in the library's visitors book during her visit to Oxford University this afternoon

The Duchess was seen writing in the library's visitors book during her visit to Oxford University this afternoon

The Duchess was seen writing in the library’s visitors book during her visit to Oxford University this afternoon

The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford, and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe

The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford, and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe

The Duchess of Cornwall was seen examining books in the Conservation Studio of the research library

The Duchess of Cornwall was seen examining books in the Conservation Studio of the research library 

Camilla was effortlessly chic as she styled her outfit with a pair of suede knee-high boots, thick black tights and a pair of classic pair earrings

Camilla was effortlessly chic as she styled her outfit with a pair of suede knee-high boots, thick black tights and a pair of classic pair earrings

Camilla was effortlessly chic as she styled her outfit with a pair of suede knee-high boots, thick black tights and a pair of classic pair earrings 

She added a few moments later: ‘It’s almost going back to nature – exercise and fresh air.’

Sir Philip, who has worked on projects from Camilla’s Reading Room, said later: ‘Robert Burton’s The Anatomy Of Melancholy is the funniest book in the English language.

‘You’ve got to find the plums in his book, they’re there but there’s a lot of old pudding as well.

‘But if you read and keep going it is hilarious, the best bits are so funny, I still laugh when I think of them.

‘Unusually for a book about melancholy it’s a very funny book and a very wise book, full of good sense ‘be not idle, be not solitary’, he says.

Camilla chatted with University staff as she toured Oxford's Bodleian Library during her visit this afternoon

Camilla chatted with University staff as she toured Oxford’s Bodleian Library during her visit this afternoon 

Camilla was seen examining books during her visit to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University this afternoon

Camilla was seen examining books during her visit to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University this afternoon

The Duchess of Cornwall  was shown the Sheldon Tapestry Map of Oxfordshire during her visit to the library

The Duchess of Cornwall  was shown the Sheldon Tapestry Map of Oxfordshire during her visit to the library 

The Duchess toured the University of Oxford's research spaces during her visit where she opened the Marcela Botnar Wing

The Duchess toured the University of Oxford’s research spaces during her visit where she opened the Marcela Botnar Wing

Camilla was shown research spaces ahead of opening the newest of the Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Science's facilities

Camilla was shown research spaces ahead of opening the newest of the Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Science’s facilities

‘And the importance of keeping your rooms well lit, and friendship and eating and drinking, good diet.’

Prof Geddes said Burton suffered from depression and in writing the book he gained knowledge of his affliction and also helped others.

But its style and humour has proved popular, he added, saying: ‘The form he wrote it in is innovative and exciting.

‘He talks to the reader, he’s witty, he’s discursive so it becomes very influential on lots of creative writers down the centuries.’

During her tour of Weston Library, part of Oxford University’s world famous Bodleian Libraries, the duchess met conservators restoring centuries-old books and quietly watched as academics studied in a reading room and later met university students who use the facilities.

The royal was given a tutorial of research equipment ahead of opening the University of Oxford's latest science faculty

The royal was given a tutorial of research equipment ahead of opening the University of Oxford’s latest science faculty 

Camilla seemed fascinated as she was shown research spaces ahead of opening the new faculty, which focuses on biomaterials and biomodulation

Camilla seemed fascinated as she was shown research spaces ahead of opening the new faculty, which focuses on biomaterials and biomodulation

Camila chatted with a researcher at the University of Oxford as she toured the institution ahead of opening their latest science faculty

Camila chatted with a researcher at the University of Oxford as she toured the institution ahead of opening their latest science faculty 

Duchess of Cornwall is pictured opening the Marcela Botnar Wing, the newest of the Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Science's facilities

Duchess of Cornwall is pictured opening the Marcela Botnar Wing, the newest of the Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Science’s facilities

The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured unveiling a plaque during her visit to open the Marcela Botnar Wing

The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured unveiling a plaque during her visit to open the Marcela Botnar Wing 

During her visit to the wing Camilla planted a Sorbus tree for the The Queen's Green Canopy (QGC), an initiative to celebrate in the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this year

During her visit to the wing Camilla planted a Sorbus tree for the The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC), an initiative to celebrate in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year

Camilla was in high spirits as she planted a tree for Her Majesty's latest initiative during her trip to Oxford University

Camilla was in high spirits as she planted a tree for Her Majesty’s latest initiative during her trip to Oxford University 

Camilla was also shown the Bodley Bestiary, a 13th century illuminated manuscript of the then-known animal kingdom.

Dr Martin Kauffmann, head of early and rare collections at the Bodleian libraries, told the duchess and Sir Philip: ‘This is a mixture of David Attenborough, the wonders of the natural world and also a book about Christian creation.’ 

Later the royal opened the Marcela Botnar Wing, the university’s newest Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Sciences facility.

During her visit to the wing Camilla planted a Sorbus tree for the The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC), an initiative to celebrate in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year.  

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