The Duchess of Cornwall will be Undertaking a Number of Literacy Engagements

The Duchess of Cornwall, patron of the National Literary Trust, during her visit to North Swindon Library, where she learned about the Trust's Swindon Hub and met children involved in the Lost Words project, 2019.


Tuesday 15th October 2019 – Wednesday 16th October 2019

The Duchess of Cornwall will be undertaking a number of engagements encompassing Her Royal Highness’s passion for the world of literacy. An avid reader herself, The Duchess believes it is vital to support children and adults alike to develop an interest in reading and writing. Her Royal Highness promotes this ethos through various patronages, including the Royal Society of Literature, The National Literacy Trust, Book Trust, The Wicked Young Writers Award, Beanstalk and First Story.

Furthermore, The Duchess of Cornwall has presented The Booker Prize for Fiction six times, and hosted the prize-giving for The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition in her role as Vice-Patron of The Royal Commonwealth Society. Her Royal Highness has also supported BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words competition since 2015 and has been an Honorary Judge since 2016.


Engagement 1

The Duchess of Cornwall will host a tea for the Booker Prize Foundation, where Her Royal Highness will meet the 2019 Booker Prize Winner.

The Booker Prize Foundation became a registered charity in 2002. It is responsible for the award of The Booker Prize for Fiction and the International Booker Prize. Crankstart, the charitable foundation of Sir Michael Moritz KBE and his wife, Harriet Heyman, is the new supporter of The Booker Prize and The International Booker Prize.

First awarded in 1969, The Booker Prize is recognised as the leading literary award in the English-speaking world bringing recognition, reward and readership to outstanding fiction. This year’s winner will be announced on Monday 14th October at London’s Guildhall. The shortlisted titles and authors are: Margaret Atwood for The Testaments; Lucy Ellmann for Ducks, Newburyport; Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other; Chigozie Obioma for An Orchestra of Minorities; Salman Rushdie for Quichotte; and Elif Shafak for 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

The Duchess of Cornwall presented the Man Booker Prize, as it was formerly known, for the sixth time last year and in July 2018, Her Royal Highness hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark 50 years of the Prize.

In previous years, The Duchess has presented the award to Eleanor Catton in 2013 for her book The Luminaries; to Richard Flanagan in 2014 for his book The Narrow Road to The Deep North; to Marlon James in 2015 for A Brief History of Seven Killings; to Paul Beatty in 2016 for The Sellout; to George Saunders for Lincoln in the Bardo in 2017; and to Anna Burns for Milkman in 2018.


Engagement 2

The Duchess of Cornwall will attend a reception for the ‘Poetry Together’ initiative followed by a tea party. At the event, hosted by Gyles Brandreth, schoolchildren and older people will perform poetry they have learnt by heart.

In 2019, the inaugural Poetry Together campaign was launched by Gyles Brandreth and Dukes Education. This initiative encourages schools to link with care homes – bringing young people and old people together to learn a poem by heart and perform it over tea.

The initiative, led by broadcaster and poetry-lover Gyles Brandreth, in partnership with Dukes Education, a family of schools and education organisations based in the UK, is inspired by research that shows learning poetry by heart has wonderful effects on the brain for people of all ages.

So far, 200 schools and elderly groups have signed up to participate, from every corner of the UK. Children and older people from as far and wide as Aberdeen, Caerphilly, Cornwall, Londonderry, Liverpool, Sussex, Bristol, Blackpool and many more areas, have been practising their poems all year.

The campaign comes to a head in the fortnight from October 3rd – National Poetry Day. Over these two weeks, schools all over the UK will visit care homes and vice versa to recite their poems together and share tea and cake.

To celebrate, Gyles Brandreth has invited some of the Poetry Together groups to come together for a special tea party on 16th October, at Eaton Square Upper School in London. Around five groups will have the chance to recite their poems for The Duchess of Cornwall.

The initiative is supported by The Silver Line, of which Her Royal Highness is Patron, Dame Judi Dench and the former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.

‘Poetry By Heart’ – BBC Radio 4 Programme 2018

Last year, Her Royal Highness took part in an interview with Gyles Brandreth for a BBC Radio 4 programme, broadcast in the run-up to National Poetry Day. The programme ‘Poetry By Heart’ highlighted the value of poetry and how learning poetry by heart has many benefits, including helping to keep the mind active as we get older. The Duchess herself read from memory a few lines from Matilda by Hilaire Belloc, a poem that she learnt as a girl. Listen to the interview here.

Engagement 3

The Duchess of Cornwall will host a tea to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate.

The Waterstones Children’s Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field.

The current Waterstones Children’s Laureate is Cressida Cowell, author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once book series, and the author of the Emily Brown picture books, illustrated by Neal Layton. She has sold over 11 million books worldwide in 38 languages.

Authors and illustrators, who have previously held the role of Children’s Laureate, are also expected to attend, including Jacqueline Wilson, Anthony Browne, Julia Donaldson, Malorie Blackman, Chris Riddell and Cressida Cowell.

The following authors and illustrators have been Children Laureates:

  • Quentin Blake (Mister Magnolia): conceived the idea for the House of Illustration, the world’s first centre dedicated to the art of illustration
  • Anne Fine (Madame Doubtfire) – toured and campaigned to promote the importance of children’s reading
  • Sir Michael Morpurgo (War Horse) – asserted that literature comes before literacy, encouraging children to discover the secret pleasure of reading and find their own voice
  • Jacqueline Wilson (The Story of Tracy Beaker) – developed the book Great Books to Read Aloud
  • Michael Rosen (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt) – developed Perform-a-poem website to encourage children to enjoy poetry
  • Anthony Browne (Gorilla, Willy the Wimp) – promoted the importance of picture books and children’s illustration and support the development of visual literacy
  • Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) – developed an anthology, Poems to Perform and helped primary school children become more confident and expressive readers
  • Malorie Blackman (Noughts and Crosses) – set up the first ever Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC)
  • Chris Riddell (Fortunately the Milk) – published a daily Laureate Log to create visual resources for all and celebrate the joy of drawing and reading for pleasure
  • Lauren Child (Charlie and Lola) – launched ‘Staring into Space’ her initiative to get children thinking creatively.

Catch up on The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s most recent engagements in the latest issue of Royal Life.

The Prince of Wales

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