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The royal focus on literature

What do Queen Camilla, Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway have in common? Their love of and passion for reading and their encouragement of others to get them to enter into a world that allows them to escape from the realities of the world for a few moments.

We are going to break down each royal lady’s work in the literature field, beginning with Queen Camilla. The Queen has shared her passion for reading on numerous occasions and has shown her support for the activity with her patronages.

Her Majesty has been the patron of the National Literacy Trust since 2010, and she is also the patron of other literature-based organisations like Book Trust, First Story, the Wicked Young Writer Awards and Beanstalk. She also always throws her support behind the BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words creative writing competition.

Talking about how stories are magical, the Queen, who has admitted to being an avid reader, has said, “Like climbing through the wardrobe into Narnia, stories open doors into different worlds. They stretch our imagination and get our brains buzzing. We fall in love with heroes and heroines and can’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what happens…

“Whether exotic or every-day, heart-warming or heart-stopping, stories help us to understand our world and the people in it.”

Embed from Getty Images

Queen Camilla attends several literacy events each year, and a few years ago, she launched the Duchess of Cornwall (now The Queen’s) Reading Room, where different novels are featured to encourage reading. The purpose is to “discover new books each season and meet the extraordinary people who create them.”

The Queen’s Reading Room hosted its first festival on 11 June 2023 at Hampton Court Palace. It featured Dame Judi Dench, how to write on different topics and remembered the late author Dame Hilary Mantel.

Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands’ work in literature is less reported and not very well-known outside of the Netherlands. The Princess has worked in the promotion of literacy since 2001, and she initiated the founding of Stichting Lezen & Schrijven (the Reading and Writing Foundation) “to prevent and reduce functional illiteracy,” according to the Royal House of the Netherlands.

Her Royal Highness’s dedication to literature led to her being designated as UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development, where she advocates for literacy across the globe. She has also been appointed Chair of the European Commission’s High Level Group of Experts on Literacy. She also received the Major Bosshardt Prize for her work in combating illiteracy in 2010.

Princess Laurentien had served as honorary chair of Stichting Lezen & Schrijven but resigned in 2017. However, she continues to work and support the foundation and its work the end illiteracy in the Netherlands.

The Princess regularly opens reading festivals and attends literature-based events, including reading to children during the Reading Breakfast as part of the national reading days in the Netherlands.

By Sebastiaan ter Burg from Utrecht, The Netherlands – Verrassingsbezoek Prinses LaurentienUploaded by huhbakker, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Last but certainly not least, is Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, who has hosted a literature train throughout Norway and a literature metro in Oslo.

The popular literature train, which first began in 2014, also travelled to Germany in October 2019, and she took famous Norwegian authors on literature trains with Deutsche Bahn from Berlin via Cologne to Frankfurt, Germany. As part of the journey, a large group of Norway’s most famous authors attended a Frankfurt book fair.

The Royal Court explained the literature train on their website, “The train tour does not follow a set railway schedule, and in addition to the Norwegian Royal Train Carriages, the locomotive pulls a café carriage, a passenger carriage and, not least, the library carriage. This is a specially furnished carriage containing books from the Oslo Public Library and parts of the Crown Princess’ own book collection. When the train stops at the local station, the carriage is normally open for anyone wanting a cup of coffee and a good book to read.”

Crown Princess Mette-Marit during her literature metro in 2019. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central

She organises meetings during her literature tours between authors and the public as a way to encourage dialogue about reading.

On the Royal Court’s website, they explain Her Royal Highness’s love of reading and her focus on spreading literature to others, “She is eager to share her love of reading and spread good literature. She firmly believes that there is a book for everyone.”

In the past, she has said, “I cannot imagine a life without books. Ever since I was a child, I have been read to and given the opportunity to enter a world of fantasy. The act of reading, the internal images it creates, the emotions it evokes – has made me a better, wiser and more thoughtful person.”

Crown Princess Mette-Marit serves as an ambassador for Norwegian literature on the international stage.

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About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. She's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites including Global News Canada, ABC News Australia, WION India and BBC World News.