Countryfile's Anita Rani: Royals set fantastic example by supporting countryside

Countryfile's Anita Rani has said the royal family are setting a great example by highlighting rural issues.

Anita Rani.
Anita Rani.

The Queen’s knowledge and passion for farming and the environment are being showcased in three special episodes of the BBC One programme set on the royal estates.

Asked how important it is for the future of Britain’s rural countryside that an institution like the monarchy supports it, Rani said: “Absolutely, and probably now more than ever given that the world’s attention is on the royal family at the moment!

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“We look to them, and the next generation of royals - and they are setting a fantastic example by highlighting rural issues.”

The series of special programmes - entitled Queen And Country - will celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation and 30 years since Countryfile’s first episode was broadcast.

Presenters have been granted permission by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to explore the grounds surrounding the royal estates of Windsor, Balmoral and Sandringham.

Rani said her highlight was during the Balmoral episode.

She said: “I went to visit the Isle of Gigha - which played host to a very special royal visit in 2006.

“The royal family hadn’t informed anyone on the island that they were due to arrive there, and I spoke to some local people who were approached by Princess Anne to see if they could assist with travel arrangements.

“The Queen wished to visit Gigha’s famous Achamore Gardens, but since the island doesn’t have a taxi service, a local shopkeeper had to step in!”

The presenter said she learned the family are “incredibly passionate about the countryside and love being in the fresh air”.

“They are their happiest when they are with nature,” she said.

The programmes will also see the team visit agricultural shows to find out about the impact the Queen has had on farming and rural communities in the UK during her reign.

In the first episode of the series, viewers will get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the work that goes into maintaining the estate that surrounds Windsor Castle, the backdrop to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding.

Matt Baker will meet the Queen’s favourite riding pony Emma, and will also examine her and Prince Philip’s efforts to make Windsor Castle run exclusively on renewable energy.

Adam Henson is to take a look at the modern practices overseen by the Queen on Windsor’s dairy farm, where cows sleep on waterbeds to improve milk production.

Rani will travel to the North East to find out more about the Queen’s preferred breed of working horse. She will also investigate the reintroduction of deer to the Windsor Estate from Balmoral in 1979.

John Craven will be joined by the Windsor Estate’s Parkland manager to examine the Duke of Edinburgh’s involvement in the conservation of its woodland landscape.

The second instalment sees the team visit Balmoral, where Baker reads some of the castle records, and Henson meets with some of Balmoral Estates’ hairy Scottish natives - Highland Cattle.

In the final instalment the Countryfile team visit Sandringham, where Baker meets the Queen’s head gardener and pigeon loft manager, who is responsible for the care and training of her racing pigeons.

Henson visits Sandringham’s mixed farm and Rani meets the Queen’s former dog trainer.

The first of Countryfile’s Queen And Country series will air on BBC One on May 27 at 6.30pm.