Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall opens Rocking Horse Nursery at University of Aberdeen

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall opens Rocking Horse Nursery at University of Aberdeen

The Duchess of RothesayCamilla, Duchess of Cornwall‘s title when in Scotland – completed her first engagement of the year when she visited the University of Aberdeen yesterday, January 21.

Camilla opens Rocking Horse Nursery 1

Camilla visited in her role as Chancellor of the university – a role which she took on in 2013. Camilla is the 11th Chancellor, and first ever female Chancellor.

The Duchess opened the university’s new Rocking Horse Nursery – a new independent nursery aimed at providing high quality childcare and education for children up to five years old (primarily for children of the students and staff of the University of Aberdeen). The Rocking Horse Nursery is the first building in Scotland built using the Passivhaus (Passive House) design, meaning that it is energy efficient and maintains a comfortable environment without needing to use heating.

Camilla toured the facility, meeting staff and the students, before unveiling a plaque to commemorate the visit.

Camilla opens Rocking Horse Nursery 3

Camilla then toured the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory at the university, where she met staff and students who showed her their research into renewable energy and the potential of tidal energy and seaweed production, which can be turned into a sustainable biofuel.

Camilla talks to students at Fluid Mechanics Laboratory

The Duchess moved on to the Sir Duncan Rice Library – designed by Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen and opened by The Queen in 2012 – which is home to more than 5,000 collections of manuscripts and archives, dating from antiquity to the 21st century.

Camilla viewed one of the rarest items from the university’s special collection: the Aberdeen Bestiary. This illuminated manuscript – which was once owned by The Royal Collection – describes a medieval understanding of the natural world including birds and beasts, mythical and real, and is a celebration of the extraordinary artistry and craftsmanship of the 12th century.

Camilla looking at rare book at Duncan Rice Library

Is anyone else annoyed that they’re not wearing white gloves?

Duncan Rice Library manuscripts 1 Duncan Rice Library manuscripts 2

Camilla ended her visit to the university by presenting The Guild of the City of Aberdeen with their new Coat of Arms. Founded in 1214 by Royal Charter from Alexander II (King of Scotland from 1214 to 1249 – this was before the unions of England and Scotland in 1603 and 1707), the Guild today comprises respected members of the local community and businessmen who promote Aberdeen and act as ambassadors for the city through their charitable and other work.

Camilla presents Coat of Arms

Camilla animated 500 words

Camilla got animated, literally, for the announcement of BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words 2016 competition. On Monday, January 18, Chris Evans (not the hot one) and Camilla launched the 2016 500 Words competition in an animated video. Camilla will be an Honorary Judge this year for the creative writing competition which asks children ages 5 to 13 to compose original works of fiction in 500 words or less.

As well as being an Honorary Judge, Camilla will be reading and debating the top 50 stories of the competition with the author panel: Malorie Blackman, Charlie Higson, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, and Francesca Simon.

The winning entries will be read by celebrities at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London on May 27. The competition is open until 7pm on the February 25. If you’re in the UK and have a kid 5-13 who wants to enter the competition, go here to submit an entry.

Photos: Clarence House @ClarenceHouse

59 thoughts on “Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall opens Rocking Horse Nursery at University of Aberdeen

  1. My least favourite royal, but at least she is out and about working, so I give her credit for that.

    I am shocked at the no gloves for the ancient manuscript – not her fault I appreciate, but even she should know better.

    The 500 words competition is fantastic and generates a huge amount of interest. Last year the finalists visited Camilla at home, so it is interesting that she is getting even more involved.

    Dislike her outfit, but again I have to give her credit for looking interested in everything, and the fact that she gets down to the right level when talking to a child.

    How many engagements does this count as I wonder, in light of KMR’s earlier explanation?

    1. This event has not been added to the online court circular yet, so I don’t know for sure how they will count it. I could see it being counted as one event (“visited the University of Aberdeen”), but I could also see it being counted as four events (“opened X; visited X; visited X; presented X”).

      Why is Camilla your least favorite royal?

      1. Ancient history I suppose KMR, don’t really think it helps to go in to the detail, but in the UK we know a lot more perhaps about her part in the breakdown of the marriage – fully appreciate that both C and D are culpable too, but I think Camilla was not unlike Kate in her relentless hunt for her Prince. Also now, though little reported she seems to have two lives – as DOC and also as C P-B, staying in her old home, with all the security paid for by us, and having very many expensive holidays too with her girlfriends. We call Kate out for her Mustique holidays, but not Camilla for her cruises and 5* holidays with friends.

        1. I don’t want to get into another Camilla-Charles-Diana argument, so I’m not even going to touch that part.

          I read that Camilla bought a new home in the last few years which she uses to spend time with her kids.

          I haven’t heard anything about her vacations. If you have any links or evidence you can share I’d be happy to write about it.

          1. KMR – lets not go there! If I see future holidays that you don’t pick up I will let you know!

            Actually I think what I was saying was that whilst I don’t like Camilla I think overall she did well – so I was trying to be positive about her, which is hard for me, but I am trying to be fair.


          2. Yes, you did look on the bright side. And, yeah, let me know if a Camilla holiday comes up. If there’s anything you ever want me to cover, just let me know.

        2. Camilla is not one of my favorite royals, but you can see she really likes children. I see Camilla having genuine delight in the children she meets, but for some reason the media want to make Kate the one who relates to the little ones.

          1. Probably because Kate is younger and they are wanting to concoct a ‘princess of children’s hearts’ or some such nonsense. Unfortunately Kate has little natural warmth for children so it falls flat. I enjoy Camilla’s genuine ease with people.

    2. That’s interesting, Birdy, to have a local’s pov. I’ve really come around to Camilla over the last year and a half. I guess mainly because she and Charles seem so happy and comfortable together, after such botched beginnings and tragedy. She seems like someone very comfortable in her own skin, and would be fun to sit down for a right old gossip with!
      Were she ever in my neck of the woods, I’d be sure to turn out to see her. I desperately wanted to see W&K when they came through on their “honeymoon”, but it never worked out. Now, if I had a choice, it would be the elder royals I’d want to make a point of seeing. And I’m closer in age to the young uns, so that’s telling. Give me people with substance!
      Also, as an avid reader my entire life, I am enchanted that books this old exist. They should be under glass, perused rarely and not without gloves. What a treasure

      1. I will politely disagree with you on Camilla but I love books and read all the time. Those old books are fantabulous – I am lucky enough to have seen a few originals and I am in awe of the people who produced them probably by candle light with poor eye sight .
        I posted earlier that Camilla was my least favourite Royal and it made me think who is my most favourite. Actually the more I learn about the Europeans from KMR the more I think my royal family just are not the best. Too much money, privilege etc?? I don’t know .. The likes of HM and Anne have an amazing work ethic, and Anne just does it with no support no publicity no kudos…because she can.
        Reading all the posts from KMR about numbers etc has made me think – what do they do for the rest of the time. I wash, cook, clean, ferry kids, book holidays, pay the bills and on and on…what do they actually DO day to day?

        1. Birdy,

          I also ask myself what the royals do when not at work. I think it is fairly easy to come up with a list – just look at all kinds of things we might like to do but don’t have the time to do.

          We know Charles loves painting (watercolor) and philosophy. Someone like Kate might indulge is painting and sculpture as well (in the best of worlds 🙂 ). Reading and writing poetry, practicing a musical instrument, learning foreign languages, enjoying (and participating in) theater, sewing and embroidery, martial arts (including very specialized and expensive, such as archery or fencing), coloring books, calligraphy, gourmet cooking, hiking and survival practices (they don’t need it, I know – but it can be fun!), collecting and curating antiques, gardening, mathematics …

          All kinds of fun things that are lovely and cool are open to the rich people who have the leisure time to indulge 🙂


          1. If Kate did just two of those things and produced some things on a consistent basis I would applaud to encourage her. But I think her time is spent on the kids (probably not as much as they want us to believe), exercising, binge watching her favorite shows, her hair, maybe cooking dinner or choosing the menu and figuring out how to continue to woo William.

            It would be nice to know that she was a well rounded person, but we know that she’s pretty two dimensional.

          2. I missed the window to comment on the post earlier in January about what Kate could do better this year. Learning a foreign language in her free time, as you suggested, would be at the top of the list for me: most of the non-British royals seem to be polyglots already, and it would be a great asset for Kate to be able to communicate with someone else in their native tongue.

          3. Goodnes Ecelos what a life of pure self indulgence!! If I had time I would go out with the teams my company supports feeding homeless people, I would visit elephant sanctuaries and learn how I could protect my favourite animal ( other then my own own adored dog) , I would learn mandarin , I would help disabled children , go into struggling schools and help young disadvantaged kids learn to read – the most essential and fundamental skill.
            I wish Kate, Camilla , et al would have similar aspirations.

        2. You certainly can’t fault Anne, she is an absolute workhorse and has committed herself to royal duty. I think she’s great. I was also looking at pictures online of her younger years. She was such a beauty, but I don’t think she ever cared!
          As I’m on the topic of old pics, I was struck by how much William resembles Margaret. The set of the eyes, the nose, the mouth, and the serious composure she had in the unsmiling shots. Have a look and see what you think. He’s not as Spencer as I once thought…those strong Windsor genes!

    3. Touching such an old manuscript without gloves is a big no-no. However, I blame the staff here. They certainly know better so I do wonder if they decided to forego the white gloves because it was a royal visiting?

      1. Their archive might not require gloves for manuscripts, either–some have concluded that the risk for harm is greater than the chance of benefit (scroll down a ways to read my ramblings on that subject).

        1. I read your post about archival practices after I posted here. Very interesting. I don’t work with old art but I once did a course on 16th century Italian drawings at Statens Museum for Kunst – adn we had to wear gloves when we handled the old drawings.

          1. It really does vary widely–there’s not a consensus yet on what best practice is, so institutions continue to make the policies that they deem to be best for their particular collections. I can’t say that the field is trending away from using gloves per se, and it may swing back in favor of universal gloves in a few years’ time. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that archivists like to bicker about what’s best!

      2. I have some experience with handling rare books including medieval illuminated manuscripts dating from the 13th century. As long as they are stored under the right temperature and humidity conditions, parchments and vellums are not that fragile and it’s ok to touch them without gloves.

  2. Camilla is really covering a lot of bases with this visit! Though I must say that I do like them having quality childcare at the university.
    I’m with you KMR about them not wearing gloves while touching the manuscripts, maybe they are copies they are touching and the real thing is safely away?
    Yet again Camilla is bringing focus in reading, it’s a great cause and it’s good to have her support.

    1. Hopefully the Rocking Horse isn’t too expensive. I tried looking up what they cost but that info is behind a login so only students and staff of the university can view it.

      1. Yikes, I don’t think that’s a good sign!

        I tried finding out the cost of the Montessori nursery that Prince George is going to, and it’s not posted anywhere – I guess you have to contact them for that information. Am I the only one who think’s that’s odd? Maybe it’s a cultural thing. In the USA, and here in France, it’s usually posted on the website.

        I was interested because my son is starting school this year and I’ve been investigating different options.

        1. It could be that the Rocking Horse is only open to the students and staff, which is the only reason I can think for why they would keep all the information about applying for it, including the prices, behind a login. I do think it’s a bit odd that a public Montessori school wouldn’t have their prices posted publicly.

          1. Usually these special day care centres are only available to staff and students, and there will be different prices eg for overseas vs domestic students and those receiving some kind of financial assistance for taking their studies. Probably why there is no mention of cost.

            Overall childcare in the UK is becoming very expensive and many mothers are finding the choice of work vs stay at home has to be about more than just simple economics, it is a longer term issue about careers etc.

          2. A friend of mine had a baby three months ago and she says that childcare here in the US is also quite expensive.

          3. I’ve read the nursery school for George is about $60/day. Let’s estimate at 3 hours a day/3 days a week as my son who is a bit older does at school and thats’s $720 a month. Yikes. For reference, we pay $355 a month here and I live in the LA area. A lot of schools are about $500 a month around here for that amount of time.

            I love Camilla, so I enjoy seeing her engagements covered here. Thanks KMR! I cringed at no white gloves on anyone touching that glorious book.

            I think my dream job would be to work for The Royal Collection. I almost got into a graduate degree in curator/museum studies but there being no jobs it wouldn’t be worth it, but man, that’s my dream career right there.

      2. Just looking up fees for the Rocking Horse nursery: in 2013 they were 39.80 pounds for a full day 0-2 years of age. Apparently, the nursery has 78 places to accommodate three age groups: 0-2, 2-3, and 3-5.

        This from Fraser Lovie in 2015, a policy adviser at the university: ‘We are committed to supporting parents. Last year when we reviewed our childcare fees, we made the decision to put staff fees up slightly and freeze student fees. Students pay about ten per cent less as we recognise it can be more difficult for them to cover costs.’

        Usually, a university’s childcare facilities are only open to staff and students with children. It ends to subsidise fees for those who can least afford it.

  3. Just wanted to add off post I hope all KMRers on the eastern seaboard are safe and well. We have headline news here that you have terrible storms on their way.

    1. So far, so good Birdy, and thank you for sending us your smile. I’m in Va; my husband spent five hours Wed going twenty miles trying to get home from just south of DC. He finally made it to a hotel and got home Thurs. It was ridiculous. I think everyone is as ready as they can be. Hoping you have a nice weekend!

      1. Thank you for your good wishes, Birdy. We’re awaiting the storm here in NY and I think people are as prepared as they’ll ever be for a super-sized one. But we’re old pros at this!

        And the first thought I had was why is Camilla touching an ancient manuscript with her bare finger? Such a no-no!

        1. Oh, Long Island was hit very hard by massive snow. The power stayed on, though. That was my biggest worry. How nice of everyone from all over the globe to think of us who went through the ferocious storm. I hope the floods subside in GB, I hope the heat is not unbearable in NZ, and I hope all is well for everyone in every part of the world.

          Loved Camilla with the children. She shines in such visits. I also was taken aback by her ungloved hands on that magnificent manuscript.

          The essay contest for children is a wonderful idea. Camilla is so into the written word. I love to see kids expressing themselves through their writing. Love to see them reading, too.

          1. Thanks, Rhiannon. Baby is fine. Oblivious to the huge piles of snow. Just one happy little camper. As always, rain, snow, or shine! Since her mother can be quite cranky sometimes and her dad is not always even tempered, we wonder where she gets it from?! Of course, our bad moods are never visible around her!
            And, the good news is, the temps are warming and the snow melting. That better be it for this year! Best wishes to everyone who dealt with the storms everywhere.
            Good luck with your running, Rhiannon. I am very impressed. And, Birdy, with your swimming. I’m impressed with you, too.

  4. What a lovely post. I attended a university based learning center whereally my mother worked. It was so much fun to be close to her. I have many fond memories of being on campus.

    I appreciate Cam and her support of childcare and reading. I would love to be able to view, but not touch that book. Call me a nerd, but the fact that that book has withstood that he test of time excites me. Imagine how many hands have held it close or for safekeeping. I’m a total history buff in that sense. I cannot wait to see the submissions for the contest. I appreciate her commitmentioned to this.

    I am a big fan of hers. I think that she’s done a good job and seems warm and inviting. On a fashion note, she looks lovely…with theach exception of those clodding boots. Just go flat, Cam.

    Thanks for such a great review, KMR. For the Americans, please have a safe and warm weekend. Winter storm Jonas is going to cause havoc and chaos.

  5. I’m just going to say it – I love Camilla. She always seems to be very in the moment and present with the people she is meeting. That’s a plus for her. She’s also really great with children. Another plus. And on the silly side, she’s got great tiara hair and can rock the big jewels.

    I was not only annoyed that they weren’t wearing white gloves, she was touching a page! When I volunteered at the Getty Museum they showed us manuscripts from their collection during our training and not only did we have gloves on, they didn’t even let us touch them. That picture had me doing a big head shake.

    Now this is the kind of engagement I think Kate should do, but she just couldn’t pull it off. So we’ll leave it to Camilla.

    BTW, just little thing – KMR I really hope Camilla didn’t unveil the plague. I’d hate to have her called something like Typhoid Camilla. 🙂

    1. Lisa I agree that Kate should be doing angagements like this, after all she’s studied art history but it happens that Camilla is the Chancellor of Aberdeen University so it’s natural that she should visit while in Scotland.

      BTW University of Aberdeen is beautiful, I’ve been to a wedding in the University chapel a few years ago when the Sir Duncan Rice Library had not opened yet so there was no chance to see the manuscripts. I too find them absolutely fascinating and I’m sure I’ve seen before this miniature with Christ on the golden background.

      I have to say about Camilla that she’s not my favour royal either, mainly because of the amount of PR and manipulation from Charles’s side in order for the public to accept her, that is especially before their marriage. That being said, there are a lot of things I have to acknowledge about her, few of them being her confidence and ease in every environment, her amount of work and also her sense of royal style.

      To end this, I too wish fellow American KMRers to keep safe.

      1. Elina, I completely understand why Camilla did this particular engagement, but I was referring to Kate doing more of this *type* of engagement. But for whatever reason, the only engagements she seems to be truly involved and present at are sporting, galas, movie premieres and anything including Sir Ben Ainslie.

  6. Thanks for another great Camilla post KMR! I rather like her outfit today, the pop of red at the cuffs and collar is great and I like how she dresses for her age, figure and position, very appropriate. It’s great seeing her interact with the young children and they look very comfortable around her. No crazy smiles or over the top facial expressions.

    If I had the chance to meet a member of the royal family for drinks and a chat, Camilla would definitely be one of my top 3 picks. I have the feeling she would be a hoot when she let’s her hair down.

  7. So, I’m an archivist (or will be after wrapping up my master’s degree in April). There’s actually been some controversy within the field about the necessity of gloves and especially cotton gloves: some say that they’re essential to prevent oils from transferring from the hands to the pages. Others, however, assert that the use of gloves reduces the dexterity of those handling the materials, meaning that they’re more likely to fumble with the pages and tear them. As a result, institutional policies on the use of gloves vary widely. My current employer and the place where I interned this summer do not require the use of gloves by staff or researchers in handling most archival items. The exception is for photographic materials: since the emulsion on there is particularly fragile and sensitive to oils, gloves are a mandate for anything ranging from Polaroids to black-and-white negatives to glass plate images. My employer uses white cotton gloves for all such images except glass plates, which need something that the emulsion applied to the plates won’t snag on; the place where I interned used Nitrile gloves (like Latex but without the potential for allergic reactions) for all photographic materials.

    That aside, I geeked out seeing the document that Camilla was looking over since I love those beautifully illustrated medieval manuscripts. Many religious leaders and monks considered the act of writing or transcribing religious texts to be communing with the divine, and it’s easy to see why in the end product. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

    1. Thanks so much ABKM for that informative explanation of current archival practices. Like you, I love medieval manuscripts. Does anyone know who did the calligraphy for the Guild of the City of Aberdeen’s new Coat of Arms? Is it the Queen’s calligrapher, Donald Jackson?

    2. Fascinating, thanks for sharing!

      I love illuminated manuscripts. I always make a beeline for them when I visit the Getty Museum. They had a glorious exhibition a few years back. Heaven!

    3. @ABKM
      Wow – good luck with finishing up your degree! You must have seen some amazing things while studying.

      Thanks for the information about the gloves it was very interesting. I had thought it was people’s breath that could possibly be more damaging?

      1. Thank you, Cathy, for your well wishes! I have gotten to see some truly fascinating items (and some truly weird ones–someone where I work found a tooth in a collection).

        I haven’t looked too much into the matter of breath, sadly, but it does encapsulate a few major preservation risks: moisture and particulates. It’s amazing how many things can take a toll on old documents: light, dust, air pollution, pests…

    4. What an interesting specialisation ABKM. Thank you for the info and good luck from me too. My, this forum does accommodate an educated group of people! May I ask which University you’re in?

      1. Thank you, Elina, for your kind words! I’m glad to have had something useful to contribute. As for my university, think American states shaped like winter apparel. 🙂

  8. Thanks, KMR. I rather admire the Duchess of Cornwall overall these days. Just get the impression she tries hard with her charities, wants to make people comfortable when she visits, etc. And she seems to do an awful lot of her work on her own, even away from home, without anyone else propping her up. Also, I was impressed with the substantial speech about human trafficking that you reported on a little while back. She did a good job then. I like to see someone keep trying to put their best foot forward after a rocky start.

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