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Her Majesty The Queen Camilla  hosted her first Queen’s Reading Room Festival at Hampton Court Palace with a surprise appearance from The King and a host of famous authors and actors.

It was a spectacular inaugural event for the Queen dedicated to reflect her love of reading and to encourage more people to read especially children.

The Queen arrived slightly late because of the afternoon thunderstorm but the King stood in for her at a champagne reception where he mingled with guests as well as Dame Joanna Lumley and Richard E. Grant and host Gyles Brandreth.  The two actors read excerpts from Shakespeare and Alfred Tennyson.

Earlier in the day there were various events with the highlight of the afternoon being a panel discussion called an Eye for a Spy with top selling novelists Ken Follett and Robert Harris and spy writer and Times columnist Ben MacIntyre. The discussion was facilitated by the Queen’s Reading Room CEO Vicki Perrin and featured readings of their books by Homeland actor David Harewood.

There was also a short improvised play based around Jane Austen’s novels by a theatre group called Austentacious.

Other guests included David Olusoga, Kamila Shamsie, Philippa Gregory, Ben Miles and Dame Harriet Walter, Kate Mosse and Peter James.

Guests also had the opportunity to tour various parts of the Palace as temperatures soared in the afternoon.

The King departed shortly before the evening’s events when The Queen took a front row seat to see Gyles Brandreth in conversations with Dame Judi Dench as she recounted hilarious stories from her distinguished and award-winning career where she appeared with Sir John Gielgud and other screen legends as well as recalling a ‘phone call from Hollywood star  Clint Eastwood to invite her to appear in J.Edgar with Leonardo Di Caprio, which she thought was a ‘joke’ and assumed it was a friend of her imitating Clint’s deep voice.

It is hope that the Queen’s Reading Room will become an annual event at Hampton Court Palace.


Photography: Sim Cannery-Clarke.



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