Queen commissions play in the style of Jane Austen to be performed at first reading festival
The Queen Consort has commissioned a play in the style of Jane Austen that will showcase her “brilliant sense of humour” and will be performed at her charity’s first literary festival.
Billed for June 11 in Hampton Court Palace, the Queen’s Reading Room inaugural festival will feature a performance by the award-winning improvisation group Austentatious showcasing a title that was entirely Camilla’s creation.
“Her Majesty’s title for this performance will be revealed on the day, but I can tell you that it reflects her great love of Austen, as well as her unique and brilliant sense of humour,” Vicki Perrin, chief executive of the charity, said.
Ms Perrin told The Telegraph that the improvised comedy group’s performances are “brilliantly fun” as the cast are able to “riff off Austen’s wit and trademark humour”.
The show will be one of six events held on the day, which includes a memorial event for Dame Hilary Mantel and a conversation between Gyles Brandreth - a close friend of Camilla and trustee of the Queen's Reading Room - and Dame Judi Dench.
The Queen Consort’s charity was formed in 2021 after the successful launch of her Instagram book club during the pandemic.
As an avid reader and supporter of literary charities, Camilla hoped the club would help more people find and connect with books which enrich their lives and turn them into lifelong readers.
The charity also works to advance education by promoting and providing opportunities for the appreciation of literature among adults and children in the UK and around the world.
The project was relaunched as The Queen’s Reading Room charity at a Clarence House reception last month, during which Camilla urged authors to resist curbs on “freedom of expression”.
June’s festival will be a co-production between The Queen’s Reading Room and Historic Royal Palaces, which is the independent charity that cares for Hampton Court Palace.
John Barnes, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, said that Hampton Court was fitting because it had “witnessed important literary events in the past” such as William Shakespeare and his company performing in the Great Hall.
He added: “We are looking forward to continuing its long connection with literature by welcoming a stellar lineup of speakers from the arts and literary world.”
In the launch video, Dame Judi narrates Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 over clips of Hampton Court Palace and festival-goers enjoying champagne on the grounds in the sunshine.
Ms Perrin told The Telegraph that the goal of Austentatious’s performance at the festival was to “put the fun and theatre back into literary festivals”.
“Our goal for the day isn't the sale of books, but the showcase of brilliant literature, authors, genres - some of whom will be familiar to followers of Her Majesty's book club and some will be new,” she added.
“It will, I hope, be a joyous day, celebrating stories and their power to bring us all together”.
Other speakers on the day include David Olusoga, Kamila Shamsie, Ben Macintyre and Ken Follett.