Tell me about…The Queen’s Reading Room

Camilla's online bookclub launched in 2021

It was announced in February that The Queen’s Reading Room is to become a charity. The move would see the online book club be given a larger spotlight as Her Majesty continues her royal duties as Queen.

Reading is a passion of Her Majesty’s and has been a champion around the encouragement of the younger generation taking up reading as a hobby for a number of years.

But what is The Queen’s Reading Room? Why was it started? We’ve taken an in-depth look at the newly formed charity.

The Queen is a passionate reader and often encourages the younger generation to read as well. (The Queen’s Reading Room)

The origins of The Queen’s Reading Room

As it was known when it launched in 2021, The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room was designed to be a ‘celebration of literature in all its forms’ and to be ‘a hub for literary communities around the world’. Speaking about the her reading list, that would morph into the Reading Room, in 2020, Camilla said ‘in these challenging times, when we are isolated from the ones we love, many of us are finding comfort in reading, to fire up our imaginations, to take us on journeys and to make us laugh’.

The idea of the online Reading Room began when the Duchess of Cornwall shared two sets of recommendations featuring books to keep people entertained during lockdown. Remind yourself of both lists here and here.

The online book club began with ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy. There have been numerous series of recommendations from Her Majesty, which each feature four different books. The chosen books vary across different genres and include some timeless classics as well as newly published titles.

The Duchess of Cambridge also provided book children’s recommendations for the online book club to mark 2022’s World Book Day. Catherine’s recommendations feature books that she has enjoyed over the years, as well as those which are a firm favourite amongst her three children.

The Reading Room has had an impact across the world, with one club calling themselves ‘The Camilla Club’, a group who had been inspired by Camilla’s book club. She met some of ‘The Camilla Club during a trip to Northern Ireland in May 2022.

She also discussed the impact of her Reading Room in an interview with British Vogue to mark her 75th birthday.

Why was the online book club turned into a charity?

The charity was launched to help more people find and connect with books to help enrich their lives and turn them into lifelong readers.

The newly-announced charity aims to provide opportunities for the love and passion of literature among adults and children in the UK and around the world. It will seek to close the gap between writers and readers through accessible and educational content.

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The Queen reflecting on her Reading Room and it becoming a charity

In February 2023, The Queen hosted a reception to mark the second anniversary of her Reading Room. Her Majesty said she was ‘delighted’ by the news that her Reading Room would become a charity.

‘As some of you may know, my Reading Room started as a list of nine of my favourite books, literally scribbled on a piece of paper during the first lockdown. It is now a global community of over 155,000, supported by internationally-renowned men and women of letters, as well as thousands of readers.

‘I am now delighted to announce that the Reading Room has become a charity, working to close the gap between readers and writers and helping people of all ages and backgrounds find and connect to books.’

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She added how the development of her Reading Room without the support of her contributors and authors and for that she was grateful for their ‘support and contributions’ to it.

‘So thank you, on behalf of book-lovers and book clubs everywhere, for sharing your talents with us and for everything you do to promote literacy and a love of literature.’

Reflections from individuals closely involved with The Queen’s Reading Room

Trustee of the charity, Gyles Brandreth, said: ‘It’s exciting that Her Majesty has now established a new way to pursue her passion and commitment to literacy and literature. As everyone knows, she is a lifelong and enthusiastic reader and wants to help inspire children and adults alike in the UK — and around the world — to be so too. She literally wants to ‘spread the word’ – and that’s wonderful.’

Vicki Perrin, CEO of The Queen’s Reading Room, said: ‘Her Majesty has seen first-hand over her years of work in the field of literacy, the power of books to change lives – if only the right book can be connected with the right person. That’s going to be our mission with The Queen’s Reading Room: to work with our literacy charity partners to help more people find and connect with books which enrich their lives and turn them into lifelong readers.’

Her Majesty carries out a number of engagements around literacy. (Royal Family)

The Queen’s Reading Room Festival

It has been announced The Queen’s Reading Room will stage its first literary festival, The Queen’s Reading Room Festival, at Hampton Court Palace on 11th June 2023. Speakers will include Dame Judi Dench, David Olusoga, Kamila Shamsie, Austentatious, Ben Macintyre, Ken Follett and many more.

Guests will be able to explore the Palace on literary themed tours, tread the floors where Shakespeare once performed with his King’s Men, listen to poetry read by some of our country’s finest actors, and watch shows from headliners.

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