Today, The Queen carried out her first solo public engagement since the Coronation.
Her engagement was based around literacy – an important topic to Her Majesty.
Queen Camilla visited Shirehampton Primary School in Bristol, where she helped the National Literary Trust open the first Coronation Library in her role as Patron of the charity.
There will be 50 Coronation Libraries across the UK, designed for children in communities with low levels of literacy. The project will aim to highlight the importance of primary school libraries in developing a life-long love of reading, something The Queen has been raising awareness of for a number of years.
The Libraries will be located in communities that Camilla has visited as the Duchess of Cornwall and Patron of the National Literacy Trust. Each library or reading space will be refurbished, restocked and two members of staff will be trained to manage it and deliver a range of reading activities for the whole school.
In addition, a commemorative plaque will be placed in each library.
Shirehampton Primary School’s new reading facility is also the 500th library to be transformed as part of the Primary School Library Alliance campaign – a unique collaboration that is addressing the issue of library provision in primary schools across the UK.
The pupil librarians accompanied The Queen to their new Coronation Library, where Horrid Henry series author, Francesca Simon, and a small group of Shirehampton Primary School children were taking part in an interactive reading session.
The group discussed their favourite novels, which included murder mysteries and the Horrid Henry series. Queen Camilla said the novels are ‘quite good aren’t they? They keep you laughing’.
Together, they read Horrid Henry: The Queen’s Visit – an appropriate title given the royal visit! ‘Horrid Henry is still going, up to his usual mischief,’ Camilla remarked.
Francesca replied: ‘It doesn’t end well. It ends badly for you!’
Jokingly The Queen said: ‘I know what the ending is and you still have your head.’
In the library, which has been enriched by 400 new diverse and age-appropriate titles donated by Primary School Library Alliance publishing partners, Her Majesty was presented with the Coronation Collection – a selection of 23 books voted for by over 12,000 children across the UK in celebration of the coronation before unveiling a plaque to officially open the space.
Her Majesty then joined a drawing class with Key Stage 2 pupils, where she drew a cartoon version of her own coronation crown. She joined the pupils for a step-by-step draw-along session with illustrator Rob Biddulph.
Speaking about Her Majesty’s drawing, he said: ‘We do need to add a bottom bit – a furry… I don’t know what it’s called. Right at the bottom, I guess that’s there for comfort reasons.’
Camilla concentrated hard on the task, added extra details to the drawing, and described her own version of Queen Mary’s Crown as a ‘little bit wobbly’.
Nine-year-old Ireoluwa Adegbuyi, who was sitting next to The Queen, said: ‘She said hers was a little bit wobbly and she said mine was quite good.’
As an avid reader herself, Her Majesty is patron of a number of literary charities, including the National Literacy Trust, BookTrust, The Royal Society of Literature, First Story, the Wicked Young Writer Awards and Beanstalk. She is also involved in the 500 Words BBC Radio 2 competition each year, as well as the Booker Prize.
The Queen even has own online Reading Room which launched in January 2021 to be a ‘celebration of literature in all its forms’ and to be ‘a hub for literary communities around the world’, as the UK and many parts of the world were still in lockdown.