Today is World Book Day, and to mark the occasion, Princess Beatrice has written a blog for the Evening Standard about coping with life in lockdown and how books have helped her to escape screens.
World Book Day is a charity event held annually in the UK and Ireland on the first Thursday in March since 1995. Normally the occasion is celebrated in schools, with children dressing up as their favourite book characters and receiving a voucher they can spend on books.
This year, for the first time ever, the event has gone viral, and Princess Beatrice – Patron of Oscars Book Prize – wanted to get involved.
“As you might already know, I have dyslexia, and as such, reading has never been my strongest talent,” Beatrice said near the beginning of the blog. It is something she has never hidden from the public. The Princess is Patron of Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre and regularly speaks about being dyslexic – as recently as May last year.
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects how individuals process language and learn how letters and words relate to their speech sounds, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The Princess has opened up about how having dyslexia affected her self esteem while growing up. She has previously described how in school, her friends were always ahead of her in their reading and she would have thoughts of: “I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough. Why am I not like the others?”
In the working environment, Beatrice has been able to flourish. She is Vice President of Partnerships and Strategy at Afiniti.com, a computer software company specialising in artificial intelligence. She says her dyslexia is an advantage in her job and that many of those she works with also has it, allowing them to think differently.
Continuing with her blog, Beatrice says that lockdown has brought some blessings: “Having a little more time to take a moment to really get into stories has been a gift I am happy to have shared with lockdown life.”
She, like many others around the world, have found books an escape from the world this past year: “When things are a little uncertain, or if I am worried or scared of what the future might have in store, stepping into the worlds described on the pages of literature has given me a sense of reassurance.
“It reminds me that challenges and quests have been dared throughout the ages, and lessons learnt along the way make us stronger and more resilient.”
Books have also given her a way to bond with her new stepson, Christopher, over the past year. Beatrice married Edoardo ‘Edo’ Mapelli Mozzi in July 2020 during a private and small ceremony– in keeping with COVID-19 restrictions. Edo’s son is from a previous relationship.
The Royal explained in her blog how she reads to Wolfie, as Christopher is known to family thanks to his middle name, at bedtime, and it all went back to her work with Oscars Book Prize. “Together, we had such a special time reading through all the entries for Oscars Book Prize 2020.”
She is looking forward to doing the same with the 2021 entries.
Her favourite book to read with her stepson? “If you have not yet read the Oi Frog books by Kes Grey and Jim Field, they have fast become our favourite.”
But where has Beatrice’s love of reading come from? According to her blog, her mother Sarah, Duchess of York ignited the spark. Sarah is an author for both children and adults – including the ‘Budgie’ series, which she created in the 1980’s and Little Red from the 2000’s.
“We have all had to learn new ways to cope with the strangest of times,” Beatrice says at the conclusion of her blog. For her, as for many around the world, books have become more important than ever. This World Book Day is probably the most important that has ever been, and resonates differently for more people than it ever has before.
Happy World Book Day! Remember, as Princess Beatrice says, ‘even when things feel uncertain there is always an adventure to be had on the next page’…