The behind-the-scenes story of The Duchess of Cornwall’s guest-edit of Country Life

The 13 July 2022 edition of Country Life, guest-edited by HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has been a huge effort stretched out over many months.

Country Life’s Editor-in-Chief, Mark Hedges, and Managing and Features Editor, Paula Lester, had their first editorial meeting with The Duchess back in January — this week’s special souvenir 244-page issue required a monumental effort by the entire editorial team.

Once The Duchess had set out exactly what articles she wanted to appear — and who she wanted to write them — Paula, along with a small, but incredibly efficient team at Clarence House, led by Assistant Communications Secretary, Natalie Hegarty, set about making The Duchess’s vision for her issue into reality.

Exchanging nigh on 2,000 emails and countless phone calls, the pair worked day and night to contact potential contributors and to let them know what The Duchess hoped they could bring to this highly eclectic and diverse issue.

‘I’m not going to pretend it’s been easy, because it’s always difficult to coordinate such a big and important edition as this, not least as we produce an issue every week, anyway,’ admits Paula.

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‘However, as we’ve already produced four highly successful Royal guest-edits (The Prince of Wales has twice guest-edited the title (in 2013 and 2018), along with his sister The Princess Royal (2019), we knew what we had to do and we got on with it.’

Once commissioning briefs had been sent out to The Duchess’s preferred writers and photographers — including HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, who shot the cover and leader images — Paula and Country Life’s Picture Editor, Lucy Ford, carefully curated all the copy and images for each piece.

The subbing team, led by Chief Sub-Editor, Octavia Pollock and Senior Sub, James Fisher, fact-checked all the written contributions, before the design team, led by Group Art Director, Dean Usher, and Senior Art Editor, Emma Earnshaw, came up with strong and eye-catching layouts (assisted by Heather Clark and Ben Harris) that showcased the first class photography and words.

Paula and Lucy also attended a memorable Frontispiece shoot at The Duchess’s private home in Wiltshire, where they assisted the photographer, Anya Campbell, in capturing some charming images of The Duchess’s two rescue terriers, Beth and Bluebell, wearing their mistress’s real pearls! Although the dogs were pretty feisty at times, as all terriers can be, a lot of effort and a few squeaky toys — not to mention the cooked sausages that The Duchess’s country dresser and brilliant dog-handler, Shona Williams, had in her back pocket — resulted in a charming portrait of HRH’s much-loved dogs.

‘This most special gold-embossed issue is an absolute triumph and testament to both The Duchess’s love of the countryside and her affection for a magazine that she has read all her life,’ concludes Paula.

‘I am incredibly proud of all the blood, sweat and tears of the entire team — as well as the huge effort put in by The Duchess and her staff — that have gone into making this week’s edition so memorable and groundbreaking. I hope that everyone enjoys reading it, as much as we did putting it together.’

The 13th July 2022 issue of Country Life is guest-edited by The Duchess of Cornwall. The magazine is for sale at newsagents and supermarkets; you can order the issue online at the cover price of £4.50, with free postage in the UK; or you can take a trial subscription of six issues for £6, which will include the special guest-edited issue for anyone taking up the offer by the end of July.

The Duchess of Cornwall, as photographed by The Duchess of Cambridge for Country Life

The upcoming 13 July 2022 issue of Country Life is being guest-edited by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall — and