The Duchess of Cornwall, a keen hunting figure and horsewoman, has accepted an invitation by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) to become its first patron.

In her new role, covering an initial five-year term, the Duchess will focus on helping the BEF support owners of elite horses and riders in the lead-up to this year’s World Equestrian Games in Aachen, together with the next two Olympics — Beijing 2008 and London 2012. She is also interested in supporting and encouraging volunteers.

“We’re thrilled the Duchess of Cornwall has accepted the invitation,” said BEF chairman Hugh Thomas.

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