Camilla welcomed Booker Prize nominees to Clarence House (Chris Jackson/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Chris Jackson
Queen Camilla was praised for making reading “sexy” as she hosted the Booker Prize shortlisted authors – and was given the trophy for safe keeping.
Sir Ben Okri paid tribute to Camilla, a passionate reader and patron of a number of literacy charities, saying her example had encouraged others to delve into books.
The poet and novelist, whose book The Famished Road won the Booker Prize in 1991, said: “She sets a very good public example, she makes reading sexy, and makes it appealable to the public, and makes it something that you ought to do.
Camilla chats with authors Sir Ben Okri and Penelope Lively during the Booker reception (Chris Jackson/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Chris Jackson
“It’s very, very important, reading, literacy needs all the help it can get.”
The Queen welcomed the Booker Prize Foundation which runs the awards to her Clarence House home and at the end of the event was asked to look after the trophy ahead of the presentation ceremony on Sunday.
She told her gathered guests: “I just wanted to say thank-you to all the writers who enhance our life, we couldn’t do without your all.
“I’ve always said reading is an escapism, whatever is happening in your life, and if you feel it’s difficult to cope with, you can pick up a book and just go off into another world.
Camilla told her guests how reading ‘is an escapism’ (Chris Jackson/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Chris Jackson
“So if it wasn’t for all of you, and all the publishers, and all the agents that help you put your books on the map, it would be a very sad world.”
The Booker Prize is one of the world’s leading literary awards that recognises talent from around the globe, and has helped to make household names of authors like Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel and Sir Salman Rushdie, who are past winners.
None of this year’s six Booker finalists – two Americans, a Canadian, two Irish and a British author – have been shortlisted before and their books explore themes ranging from immigration, political extremism and erosion of personal freedom to grief.
The six shortlisted books for this year’s Booker Prize (Chris Jackson/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Chris Jackson
Sir Ben gave an impassioned speech championing the importance of books, telling the Queen and her guests: “We know that stories told well and truthfully can shake the world and bring quiet liberation. We know literature is a force for good in an ever darkening world.”
He said Camilla is someone who “…loves reading and who also champions the rights of writers to write freely and unfettered, for a fairy tale is not an unreal fact, taking place in a real world. It is a transformative act taking place in a resistant world.
“Magic is only possible because reality is hard. And all fairy tales take place against the background of what Schopenhauer would call the suffering of the world.”