Bestselling author Kate Mosse prepares for Queen Camilla’s book festival
As a writer of historical fiction, Kate Mosse loves nothing more than rummaging around in record offices or archives, reading old documents and excavating the past. Which is why taking part in the first festival to celebrate the Queen’s Reading Room at Hampton Court Palace is such an exciting prospect.
“Everywhere you look there is something extraordinary, a painting, or just thinking about all those people who have walked down those corridors,” she says, looking around her in awe during HELLO!’s exclusive photoshoot and interview at the magnificent royal palace. “It’s the echoes of the past.” Although a bonus, the 17th century location is not the main attraction, however. “I think it’s fabulous that the Reading Room has been set up and I leapt at the chance of being in the festival,” Kate says. “The Queen is genuinely important to books and a genuine reader.”
Next month’s festival for the Queen’s Reading Room, set up originally as an online community in 2021 and relaunched as a charity by Her Majesty in February 2023, is a co-production with Historic Royal Palaces and the first event of its kind. Kate, whose best-selling book Labyrinth was featured on the Reading Room this year, will be joined by authors including Philippa Gregory, Ken Follett and Robert Harris, as well as actresses Dame Judi Dench and Dame Harriet Walter, to celebrate the written word on 11 June.
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It is “particularly powerful”, says Kate, not only to have a senior royal promote literature, but for it to be Her Majesty. “I think for a lot of people, [the Queen] stands for a woman who has had to put up with a great deal, as well as achieve a great deal. And although she’s a Queen, she knows what women’s lives can be like. She’s not remote or divorced from things.”
The two women have met several times since Kate asked the then Duchess of Cornwall in 2010 to present the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, which she co-founded in 1996. Back then, Camilla was still “quite a controversial figure”, says Kate. “I felt she was a strong, interesting woman who was known to be a passionate reader. There was a certain amount of opposition, but we thought: ‘This is our choice, we’d like her to present the award.’”
PHOTOS: TREVOR LEIGHTON
STYLING: GAYLE RINKOFF
HAIR & MAKE-UP: ALICE THEOBALD AT ARLINGTON ARTIST SUSING DRYBAR & GIORGIO ARMANI BEAUTY
The Queen’s Reading Room Festival is at Hampton Court Palace on 11 June. Visit thequeensreadingroom.co.uk. Palace on 11 June. Visit thequeensreadingroom.co.uk.
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