The Queen Consort Urges Writers to be “Unimpeded” by Curbs on Freedom of Expression Amid Roald Dahl Row

the queen consort visits lille barracks
Queen Consort Camilla's message to WritersWPA Pool - Getty Images

Members of the royal family are often extra cautious when it comes to sharing thoughts or views on divisive topics. However, the Queen Consort attracted attention today when she gave a speech which has been widely interpreted as commenting on an ongoing controversy over Roald Dahl’s children’s books.

The rewriting of the author’s books to remove language that might be deemed to cause offense has prompted much criticism and discussion in recent days. And with the debate over censorship still high on the news agenda, Camilla gave a prominent speech at Clarence House where she chose to reference the topic of impediments authors might face.

“Please keep doing so and please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination,” she told the room full of writers, publishers and other members of the literary community. “Enough said!,” Camilla finished before ending her speech by urging the group to roar “like a pride of lions” about their achievements.

Earlier in her address, she said about the power of literature, “All of you here must take the most enormous pride in your profession and in the part that you play in bringing joy, comfort, laughter, companionship and hope through your writing. You open our eyes to others’ experiences and remind us that we are not alone. Human beings have always needed the connection of literature – its wisdom as well as its sheer escapism. In today’s challenging climate, we need it more than ever.”

While Camilla's words were veiled, prominent figures have been openly critical of the changes to Roald Dahl's books, including the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. According to The Telegraph, international publishers of Dahl's books are not changing the language.

Today’s reception had been postponed by one week after the Queen Consort, 75, tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to pull out of planned public visits. She was still feeling slightly under the weather yesterday so did not attend a planned engagement with King Charles to visit a food project in east London.

Representatives of literacy charities that the Queen Consort is affiliated with were at today’s reception alongside well-known authors including Jacqueline Wilson, Sebastian Faulks and Michael Morpurgo. The event marked two years of initiative The Reading Room, which was launched by the then Duchess of Cornwall during the COVID pandemic in January 2021. “As some of you may know, my Reading Room started as a list of 9 of my favourite books, literally scribbled on a piece of paper during the first lockdown,” Camilla said. “It is now a global community of over 155,000, supported by internationally-renowned men and women of letters, as well as thousands of readers.”

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