Camilla Follows in Queen Elizabeth’s Footsteps With Charity Visit
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The Queen Consort has long been a supporter of literacy charities, and today she emphasized this with visits to two organizations championing reading for all. During her second stop of the day, Camilla found herself following in Queen Elizabeth’s footsteps by signing a visitors book signed by then Princess Elizabeth more than 85 years go.
The Queen Consort spent more than an hour with the children’s reading charity Coram Beanstalk today at their Kings Cross headquarters for an event to mark their 50th anniversary. She praised the vital work of volunteers who help school children read, as well as gamely joining in with the actions for a poem by Joshua Seigal. But it was when she was due to depart that Camilla was reminded of the long line of royal women who have supported Coram since 1739.
While Coram Beanstalk is 50 years old, the Coram charities began in the 18th century when Thomas Coram established the Foundling Hospital. The group has since evolved to now encompass several different charities working in the UK and around the world claiming to help more than one million children and families each year.
Princess Elizabeth visited the Foundling Hospital Day Nursery in July 1936 with her grandmother Queen Mary and her sister Princess Margaret. Both sisters signed the visitors book as “Elizabeth of York” and “Margaret Rose of York.” Queen Elizabeth last visited in 2018 when she signed the book “Elizabeth R.”
Dr. Carol Homden, the chief executive of Coram Beanstalk, explained to Camilla that Queen Caroline, wife of King George II, was the first royal to show an interest in Thomas Coram's work. King George II signed a Royal Charter to establish the Foundling Hospital after his wife's death. Dr. Homden said of the late Queen Elizabeth, “She first visited Coram as Princess Elizabeth when she was aged 10 with her grandmother. But as you can see through the decades her late Majesty was very much involved in our work. And of course walking in the footsteps all those years before was Queen Caroline.”
“Goodness, it goes all the way back,” Camilla remarked. Before signing the visitors book, she quipped, “Please tell me what the date is,” and when told it was the second of February, she said, “Oh I should know, it’s my sister’s birthday.”
Earlier, the Queen Consort had looked amused as she joined in with the actions to poem “Just a Book?” by Joshua Seigal. “It’s very democratic, the actions, everyone has to do it, it doesn’t matter who you are,” Joshua said afterwards. “That was a really wonderful experience…If high-profile people can support something as important as literacy and reading then it does make a huge difference. The more people who are involved the better and the higher profile those people are the better.”
Camilla has made literacy a cornerstone of her royal work and became patron of Coram Beanstalk in 2013. In an off-the-cuff speech today, she described herself as a “very proud patron” of the charity. Of the power of reading, she said, “You can escape into different worlds, you can laugh, you can cry, you can learn. And it’s thanks to all of you that it’s happening for all these children.”
Homden said after the visit, “Her Majesty’s involvement in children’s literacy, and of course in the issues that affect children’s ability to learn are hugely appreciated and have never been more important.” She added about Camilla, “Her direct engagement, the way she puts everyone at their ease, just her genuine love for the children and for all of us to serve by making their lives better.”
Earlier in the day, the Queen Consort had visited Book Aid International, a charity that provides books to communities that need them.
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