Camilla, a long champion of literacy, hopes the Reading Room will be a way to celebrate and explore literature from around the world. Photo: Eddie Mulholland/WPA Pool/Getty Images
> The Scroll
Duchess Camilla Is Launching Her Own Book Club, the ‘Reading Room’
/ BY Cynthia Ross Cravit / January 6th, 2021
The Duchess of Cornwall, 73, is starting her own online platform to celebrate literature and provide a hub for authors, readers and literary communities around the world.
The venture – a first for the palace – will be hosted via Instagram @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom. While its official launch isn’t slated until Jan. 15, the account has already received more than its share of literary love with more than 25,000 followers to date. To kick off the initiative, Camilla invited British author and artist Charlie Mackesy to talk about his best-selling book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.
In additional to offering seasonal book recommendations — starting with four winter book picks this month — the Reading Room will provide “exclusive insight from the authors themselves, in a community space for book lovers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds,” according to Clarence House.
Working with the National Literacy Trust, it has also partnered with libraries across the U.K. so that featured titles are available free for as many people as possible.
This initiative follows the massive successes of Camilla’s suggested reading lists published during pandemic lockdown in 2020. At the time, the Duchess, a lifelong avid reader, alluded to American writer Ernest Hemingway who famously said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” She went on to write, “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. With that in mind, here is a list of my dearest ‘friends.’”
A few of her must-reads last year included A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Travels on My Elephant by Mark Shand, her late brother and well-regarded conservationist who died in 2014. Her summer “escapist” list featured Girl by Edna O’Brien and The Island by Victoria Hislop. For her required regal read, Camilla selected The Queen’s Necklace by Alexandra Dumas, which she describes as “an epic tale of love and hatred, betrayal and courage, set at the court of Louis XVI.”
The Duchess, who married Charles, the Prince of Wales in 2005, has made literacy central to her work in the Royal Family. She is patron of seven charities, including the Royal Society of Literature, the National Literacy Trust as well as Book Trust and Coram Beanstalk, which supports reading to children and families.