Duchess of Cornwall admits she's an 'entrenched technophobe'

Duchess of Cornwall reveals she’s an ‘entrenched technophobe’ but says she was inspired to start her online book club by ‘moving letters’ received during the first lockdown

  • Camilla, 73, revealed her motivations for launching new virtual ‘reading room’
  • Her @duchessofcornwallreadingroom launched on Instagram this week  
  • The royal said that she felt part of a ‘universal community of reading souls’ 
  • It comes after the Duchess revealed first four personal picks for virtual platform

The Duchess of Cornwall has admitted that she is an ‘entrenched technophobe’ but says she was compelled to start her online book club by ‘moving letters’ she received during the first lockdown. 

Camila, 73, has revealed her motivations for launching her new virtual ‘reading room’ which has already attracted more than 30,000 literary enthusiasts to her Instagram site @duchessofcornwallreadingroom

The royal said that, having inherited a love of books by her father as a child in Sussex, she felt part of a ‘universal community of reading souls’.

Writing in The Times, she added: ‘Notwithstanding my advanced age and entrenched technophobia, I thought the best place for us to meet one another might be online.’

The Duchess of Cornwall (pictured) has admitted that she is an ‘entrenched technophobe’ but said she was inspired to start her online book club by ‘moving letters’ during the first lockdown 

Camilla said that at the start of the first national lockdown she compiled a list of her own favourite ‘desert island books’ which, much to her delight, opened up discussion of other literary classics with readers around the world.

She continued: ‘The most moving letters were those from people who described how books had been their lifeline.

‘In some cases, their only company for weeks has been characters in novels. Reading was comforting for us, making us laugh, taking us on journeys that we could not undertake in the flesh and, crucially, reminding us that we are not alone.

‘We found a community in reading at a time when we were, sadly but necessarily, unable to be with those we love.’ 

She resolved to set up an online platform which she said ‘explores the magical world of books; the extraordinary people who write them; and the emotional, social and educational benefits of reading’.  

Dame Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror And The Light has been picked by the duchess alongside William Boyd’s Restless, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak (pictured)

It comes after Camilla revealed the first four personal picks for her new initiative which are The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel; Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens; Restless by William Boyd; and Elif Shafak’s The Architect’s Apprentice. 

In a special film created to welcome readers to the Instagram-based literary initiative, the royal spoke about her own love for reading.

‘To me, reading is a great adventure. I’ve loved it since I was very small and I’d love everybody else to enjoy it as much as I do,’ she said. ‘You can escape, and you can travel, and you can laugh and you can cry. There’s every type of emotion humans experience in a book.’

Camilla is following in the footsteps of TV presenters Richard and Judy by launching her own book club.

The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room will be a ‘celebration of literature’ and, she hopes, a hub for literary communities around the world.

Four of her recommended books will be unveiled each season, with the first out today.

A stunning portrait (pictured) of the Duchess of Cornwall was released ahead of the announcement of the royal’s Reading Room book club’s first four titles

Hillary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light is the conclusion to her Wolf Hall trilogy, based on the life of Thomas Cromwell, and was eight years in the making.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is set in the desolate marshlands of the North Carolina coast and tells a coming-of-age story through the eyes of an abandoned child. The New York Times described it as a ‘painfully beautiful’ first novel.

By contrast William Boyd’s spy story Restless explores the wartime adventures and peacetime intrigues of Russian émigré Eva Delectorskaya, who is recruited for the British Secret Service in 1939.

The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room will be a ‘celebration of literature’ and, she hopes, a hub for literary communities around the world

Lastly, The Architect’s Apprentice is described as a ‘dazzling and intricate’ tale from Elif Shafak, set in 16th Century Istanbul.

Camilla was inspired to set up the free initiative as a result of the phenomenal response to two suggested reading lists she published during the first lockdown, as well as research which showed that book sales soared by 400 per cent.

The duchess and her team decided to set up a more permanent platform to celebrate and explore literature from around the world – @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom.

Sources say she has put her ‘heart and soul’ into the venture, which is a royal first.

Each recommended book will be accompanied by exclusive content from the authors, as well as the duchess herself, to spark conversation and debate.

Since joining the Royal Family, Camilla has made the issue of literacy – particularly in children -one of the cornerstone of her work and is patron of seven charities including National Literacy Trust. 

Charlie Mackesy, author and illustrator of best-seller The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, has given his support to the project (pictured during a video call with the Duchess)

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