The Duchess of Cornwall hosted a tea for the Booker Prize Foundation at Clarence House today, where she met Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo, the 2019 Booker Prize winners. Camilla also marked the birthday of Oscar Wilde with a reception later in the evening.
During the reception, Camilla congratulated Margaret Atwood and said of the surprise decision to split the prize: “It must have been so exciting to have a tie.”
The Duchess also expressed her sadness to have missed the Booker Prize ceremony this year, saying: “It came out of the blue. I was really sad I missed it this year.”
A long-time supporter of the Booker Prize, the Duchess is patron of the National Literacy Trust and Book Trust.
The Booker is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the UK, highlighting great books to readers and transforming authors’ careers. The prize was shared two times prior, in 1974 and 1992, before the rules changed to state that only one winner can be chosen.
In her acceptance speech, Bernardine Evaristo talked about the lack of diversity among winners and expressed her wish for more black winners: “A lot of people say, “I never thought it would happen to me”, and I will say “I am the first black woman to win this prize”, and I hope that honour doesn’t last too long. I hope other people come forward now.”
The Duchess of Cornwall has congratulated the joint Booker Prize winners today at Clarence House. Camilla is a big supporter of literacy organisations. pic.twitter.com/JogmP6gOz5
— Victoria Murphy (@byQueenVic) October 15, 2019
After the tea, Bernardine said: “It was lots of fun. She’s very, very funny and very engaged in literature and literature projects.”
She gifted Camilla with two signed copies of her book ‘Girl, Woman, Other’, and said: “She said she would keep one and give her other copy to her son [Tom].”
About meeting the Duchess, Margaret Atwood, the author of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and now the Booker-Prize winning ‘The Testaments’, said: “She was very sorry she couldn’t be there and swore that she would be there next year. And said how lucky we are to be writers.”
Anna Burns, the 2018 Booker Prize winner, was also in attendance, meeting the book-loving Royal.
Later in the evening, Camilla attended reception hosted by Gyles Brandreth, the President of the Oscar Wilde Society at Grosvenor House. Each October, the literary society’s event is held in appreciation of Oscar Wilde and to mark the author’s birth.
Wilde is known for his plays and poetry, as well as his humorous and often pithy quotes about life.
At the event, The Duchess of Cornwall met with the actress Maggie Smith and other guests that included artists, actors, poets and academics, from across the UK and Ireland.
Guests at the event encompass the world that Oscar Wilde knew in his heyday. It includes artists, actors, poets and academics, from across the UK and Ireland.
The Duchess speaks to actress Maggie Smith at this evening’s reception. pic.twitter.com/zN3dRa5NNA
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) October 15, 2019
There, the Duchess was introduced to Nicholas Parsons by Gyles Brandreth. The Royal chatted with the presenter as he was given a cake for his 96th birthday.
On her speech, The Duchess of Cornwall joked that male actors attempted to take female parts saying: “It’s lovely to be here again to salute the memory of Oscar Wilde. Oscar liked strong women and created quite a few in his plays – including, of course, the infamous Lady Bracknell, a character so interesting that now men want to play her – as if they didn’t have enough good parts of their own.”