Camilla has taken part yesterday in the presentation of the Booker Prize. In her speech, the Duchess joked about attending the annual event in a “disembodied” form due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking from Clarence House, Camilla focused her remarks on the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the world – and how much literature has helped many to escape reality and find new, virtual communities.
Mentioning the famous quote by author Enid Bagnold “To make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus”, Prince Charles’s wife joked about 2020 being “a cactus”.
She said: “For many people, this year has been a cactus, if the cactus lovers amongst us will forgive me.
“But as Enid says, writers have the power to turn a cactus into a great flower.”
Camilla pre-recorded a video to mark this year’s Booker Prize
Camilla said 2020 has been a difficult year in her latest speech
Camilla highlighted the devastating impact the pandemic is having on the arts, adding: “While COVID deprived us of so many cultural pleasures, live music, theatre, cinema, art galleries, even being together in the flesh this evening.
“But we still have the pleasure of at least being able to read.”
Camilla, who has attended the Booker Prize in person between 2013 and 2018, continued to speak about the literary community has been able to regroup and make the most out of the pandemic.
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Camilla is the patron of the National Literacy Trust
She said: “Through reading, we can also find community.
“This year, as book sales have vastly increased, so online book clubs have flourished and book-lovers have been forging new connections with one other.
“For all these reasons, this year’s Booker Prize is even more important than usual.
“It provides an opportunity to reflect on the richness of English-language literature.
Camilla has attended the Booker Prize in person every year between 2013 and 2018
Camilla and Prince Charles visited Berlin over the weekend
“It allows us to give thanks for the transformative power of books, which change cacti into flowers.
“It demonstrates the vastness, and closeness, of the literary community.
“Above all, it celebrates wonderful writers who share their gifts to strengthen, provoke, move and comfort their readers.”
The 51st Booker Prize was won by New York-based Scottish writer Douglas Stuart for his novel Shuggie Bain.
Camilla, who is the patron of the National Literacy Trust, has often spoken about how important reading is for both children and adults.
Camilla and Prince Charles married in 2005
In January, the Duchess wrote a deeply personal article for The Sun, in which she thanked her late father for passing onto her his love for books.
She wrote: “I was very lucky to have a father who read to us when we were children.
“And he didn’t just read books — he brought them alive.
“We couldn’t wait for the next chapter.
“So my love of reading started early and has stayed with me all my life.
“And, looking back, that was one of the greatest gifts my father could have given me.”
Camilla and Kate attending the National Service of Remembrance
Later in the year, the Duchess also chose to share some of her favourite books to inspire others to spend their time in lockdown by picking up a new volume.
Publishing her first list of recommendations in April, she said: “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.”
In August, the Duchess of Cornwall revealed a second round of recommendations.
She said: “I am delighted to share a few more of my favourite books.
“At present, it might be ambitious to describe them as ‘beach reads,’ but I very much hope they provide a welcome bit of escapism.”
Camilla’s recommended book included mysteries, dramas and even a novel about a royal scandal at the French court.