The scene you present behind you when on a video call speaks volumes about your personality. Prominent people have been sharing their backviews willy nilly throughout lockdown.

Before the pandemic struck, we had no particular desire to familiarise ourselves with phrases like ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolation’ or ‘backview’. But we are where we are. And we are muddling through like the British always do.

One of the greatest pastimes of lockdown is the examination of the backviews of the great and the good. While most politicians, royals, writers and civilians have not curated these the way tastemakers and fashionistas have, a backview is gripping however it comes. Dusty ornaments? A blouse bought specially for the camera? Clutter? Books? Joinery? Art? Hell, even the colour of people’s walls is tantalising these days.

Normal people – and the uninitiated – might have piles of old letters and cereal-encrusted bowls as their backview. The flamboyant designer Luke Edward Hall takes a different approach. Writing in the Financial Times, he says: ‘Accessories are vital. When arranging a video call, I might bring in a piece of fake coral or a plaster cast of a classical head… Flowers, of course. Big ones, though. Forget horrid succulents. You want giant white lilies for optimum, opulent elegance.’

Either way, here are the best backviews we’ve seen in recent weeks.

HRH The Duchess Of Cornwall

There are several charming elements to The Duchess of Cornwall’s Birkhall backview. The greetings cards, the family photographs, the jug of brightly coloured flowers, the posh pens and the plastic ball-thrower for dogs all bring a smile to the face. But, most of all, we love the hardback Harry Potters on the shelves of her panelled study.

Gwyneth Paltrow

She sure doesn’t give us much – but we’ll take any titbits we can from the goddess of stylish living. Highlights include the beautiful marble splashback behind Gwynnie’s oven, her chic set of knives and the metro tiling in evidence behind her sweet son, Moses.

HRH The Prince of Wales

The backview of the man who is next in line to the throne is as traditional as you might expect – but perhaps a little less formal. Photographs of his sons, grandchildren and horses jostle for space on an upright piano with pictures of flowers, some ceramic roosters and a pretty planter of narcissi. He might think about asking for a new tablecloth for Christmas, mind you.

Poppy Delevingne

We can’t be certain that Poppy Delevingne’s backview in this video is at her own home but it is notable, if empty, nevertheless. We love the sisal carpeting, the bold colour on the walls (could it be Nicotine from Rita Konig’s collaboration with Plain English?) and the chair upholstered with fabric in the style of vintage French grain sacks.

Matt Hancock MP

We’ve seen a lot of the beleaguered Health Secretary in WFH mode recently. The study at his North London home has plenty of built-in bookshelves, painted in the same shade of orangey-red as the walls, and pretty sconce light fixtures. On his left is a trendy gallery wall of framed awards university group photos. An ego chamber, if you will.

Willow Crossley

It comes as no surprise that the Cotswolds kitchen of whimsical florist Willow Crossley is extremely pretty. We want to copy it all, from the plates stacked on open shelving to the generous butler’s sink and the Swallows wallpaper from Sanderson.

TRH The Duke & Duchess Of Cambridge

Some of us would give our right arm for a proper tour of Anmer Hall, the Norfolk home of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. When they took on the house, near Sandringham, they are said to have renovated it with the help of the mega interior designer, Ben Pentreath. What we can see of his and their handiwork in their coronavirus backview is a pretty eau de nil painted armoire, a sweet little watercolour in a gold frame, smart brass light fittings, a lovely painted Georgian fanlight and walls in a tasteful (probably) Farrow & Ball neutral.

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April 2020
By Becky Ladenburg

Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.