The Duchess of Cornwall Attends Launch of WIJ Mentoring Programme

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The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, joined the latest mentors and mentees on our 2018 scheme at a champagne reception at the The Ned on 7 February.

Canapés and Perrier Jouet circulated, as did many members of our committee and advisory board who came to show their support. Guests included leading women editors and journalists from a host of titles and platforms.

The Duchess of Cornwall , Eve Pollard and Lynn Barber

Introduced by Women in Journalism’s Honorary President, Eve Pollard, The Duchess addressed the room, saying, “I was trying to think what to provide for a group of female journalists and it occurred to me that the ideal thing would be a Royal story you may be unaware of… Can I hear your pencils sharpening…?”

The Duchess went on to tell her story about Anne Royall, who she described as “one of the first professional woman journalists.”

“She was, by all accounts, a formidable woman. The President at the time was John Quincy Adams.  He was in the habit of taking a naked swim each morning in the Potomac River.  The story is told that she caught him enjoying one such early bath and sat on his clothes on the riverbank until he answered her questions about pensions for widows, thus making her the first woman to interview a U.S. President!

Now, no one knows if this story is true or not; I doubt it’s the best way to get an interview today but it’s a marvellous measure of female guile.”

Eve Pollard with the Duchess of Cornwall.

The Duchess added that “a bold, thriving press is part of what makes Britain great. It is vital that in stories from around the world we hear both male and female perspectives. “ She also cited research published by WIJ last year that showed the lack of women in senior roles on UK newspapers, and that stories about women are less likely to be told. “We should applaud the powerhouse forces in journalism who make sure no one is overlooked,” she added.

The Duchess concluded by saying “thank you for helping us to make sure we record the great women of today so we can inspire the young women of tomorrow.  Telling their stories is not just good for women, it’s good for the world.”

Hannah Furness, Cheryl Douglas,Roya Nikkhah, Kate Youde and Louise Ridley

During the reception there were many discussions with the Duchess of Cornwall about the WIJ mentoring programme. Many mentees and mentors were introduced to the royal guest including Rebekah Evans  a new mentee on the junior scheme who is paired with Kelly Allen, a Freelance Showbiz Journalist. Rebekah said “The Women in Journalism mentoring scheme is a fantastic and unique opportunity which I am delighted to be a part of. Gaining the opportunity to be mentored by a leading woman in the industry and receiving further insight into the profession is a privilege. I am looking forward to delving further into the scheme immensely.”

Melanie Phillips, Lucy Daltroff, Jane Gordon and Alexandra Campbell.

Alex Milner, News Duty Editor at the BBC, took a place on the senior mentoring scheme. Alex, who will be mentored by Kate Mansey, Deputy Features Editor of the Mail on Sunday, said “I am very excited to have been awarded a place on the mentoring programme this year. I am encouraged by the solidarity and expertise which Women in Journalism offers me to meet the challenges in the next step of my career with renewed new self-confidence and a new perspective.”

Guests mingling at The Ned.

The room was decorated with flowers from Grandirosa London, who kindly also gifted a posy for The Duchess of Cornwall.

Thanks also to our events sponsor for the next 12 months, Cision.

The event was sponsored by Grandirosa and Perrier Jouet.

Next on the event agenda is a “Centenary Celebration of the Women at Westminster,” a champagne reception at The House of Commons.