Backing farmers and growers
The Duchess cares deeply about supporting those working hard to put food on our tables. Her Royal Highness has served since 2021 as Patron of The Addington Fund – a charity dedicated to helping farmers and their families in times of crisis. In February 2023 The Duchess visited Smerrill Dairy Farm to meet farmers from across Gloucestershire and hear about the day-to-day challenges being faced by those on the frontline of food production.
As Honorary President of Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) since 2016, The Duchess has also championed LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday – British farming’s annual open day.
Encouraging the next generation
Engaging young people with where our food comes and the many skilled career opportunities available in the food production sector is an important focus for Her Royal Highness’s work.
The Duchess has worked closely with LEAF over many years to ensure more teenagers are able to learn about farming and gain experience of the food sector as they progress through secondary school.
I think traditionally we’ve been incredibly good at engaging with the primary school years. They love going out on the farms and it’s really important to start that work early. However I think we’ve been missing a trick. I think the teenagers are our future, so we’ve really got to engage with them.
In April 2023 The Duchess took part in a LEAF workshop for teenagers hosted at the School of Sustainable Food & Farming, highlighting the many high skilled and innovative roles that take our food from farm to fork.
Her Royal Highness also hosted a roundtable discussion with industry representatives to discuss ways the food sector can work together to offer better careers advice and make more job opportunities available to young people.
The Duchess visited Berkshire College of Agriculture in May 2023 to meet students and hear about their future career aspirations.
In April 2023 The Duchess opened LEAF’s first Gold Demonstration School. Brockhill Park Performing Arts College in Kent is a pioneering school which partners with their own local farm to enable students to learn about food production and the environment as part of a broad curriculum.
Her Royal Highness is particularly committed to reaching disadvantaged young people and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to experience the countryside regardless of their background.
Her Royal Highness is a proud supporter of agricultural shows and the important work they do to showcase the food production sector. The Duchess regularly visits events across the country as Patron of The Association of Show & Agricultural Organisations (ASAO) – the representative body for the UK's many agricultural, horticultural, equine and countryside events. Her Royal Highness has held this role since 2012.
Agricultural shows can play an important role in our communities, bringing people together, uniting us in tackling shared problems and improving understanding about where our food comes from, as well as being a fun day out that everyone can enjoy.
The Duchess has also served as President of many shows throughout the UK over the past two decades, including The Royal Show in 2007, the Royal Bath & West of England Show in 2011 and the Royal Norfolk Show in 2019.
In 2023 Her Royal Highness took on the presidency of The Driffield Show in the East Riding of Yorkshire – one of the many smaller regional shows with a proud heritage stretching back to the mid-nineteenth century.
The Duchess of Edinburgh visited The Driffield Show in July 2023, during the centenary year of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations. Her Royal Highness met exhibitors, competitors and families enjoying local day out at the event which attracts around 30,000 visitors.
In September 2021, The Duchess visited the Westmoreland County Show in Cumbria together with The Princess Royal.
Education and connecting with young people remains central to Her Royal Highness’s show engagements. In April 2023 she visited the Suffolk School & Country Fair – a free event run by volunteers dedicated to engaging schoolchildren with the countryside.
The Duchess also works to encourage sustainable food production. Her Royal Highness takes every opportunity to meet with food producers and learn about the latest innovations enriching our environment.
In June Her Royal Highness visited the Groundswell Festival – also known as ‘the Glastonbury of Farming’ – to meet with experts in regenerative agriculture and learn more about the science behind producing food in a safe and nutritious way.