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Queen Camilla wearing green dress and scarf at Charleston Festival© Alamy

Queen Camilla's 'extraordinary' skill revealed by Fool Me Once author Harlan Coben

Harlan is taking part in the upcoming Reading Room festival

Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
June 3, 2024
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The author of the hit novels Fool Me Once, The Stranger and Shelter, Harlan Coben, has been full of praise of Queen Camilla, and spoke warmly of the royal ahead of participating in the Queen’s Reading Room festival. 

Harlan, 62, admitted that he doesn’t often get nervous, but certainly did when meeting the royal - but it was unnecessary. Speaking to PA news agency about the “tremendous honour” of appearing at the festival, he shared the Queen’s amazing skill at putting everyone at ease in her presence. 

WATCH: Duchess Camilla thrilled by response to book club as she receives letters from all over the world

“The feeling that I got almost instantly from her, and I think everyone in the room did, it was a really interesting dynamic that she created for all of us to put us all at ease.”

Harlan Coben, Donna Tartt, Queen Camilla, Helena Bonham Carter and Dame Joanna Lumley during a reception for The Queen's Reading Room charity© Pool
Harlan Coben, Donna Tartt, Queen Camilla, Helena Bonham Carter and Dame Joanna Lumley during a reception for The Queen's Reading Room charity

He explained to PA: “I don’t get nervous very often. But I have to confess that coming into Clarence House was fun, intimidating, and she has a instant warmth to her, the Queen, even in the few seconds that you first meet her that she’s so gracious and of course you’re nervous … she immediately makes you feel at ease. She was extraordinarily polite. And I’ve been told by others who knew her personally that she is extraordinarily warm and down to earth.

“But also what made it better for me is, especially after going to the Clarence House event, what the Queen’s Reading Room is doing, which is so unusual and different. I’ve done a lot for a lot of literary groups and we’re always trying to encourage people to read, young people to read, old people to read, and the Queen is doing that.

The King has granted the Queen Consort a new coat of arms© Getty
The King with the Queen Consort

“But I think by tying it into actual science is what I find so interesting. When we were at Clarence House there was a lot of scientists there, who by looking at brainwaves and things like that, have discovered that reading … is good for you, that reading a novel or a book, not scrolling on your phone, increases empathy, and reduces stress and is good for your mental health. We know that, but to actually see the science behind it … I think that’s really powerful stuff and I commend the Queen and the Queen’s Reading Room for taking that approach to it”.

Harlan appeared at the literary festival alongside Slow Horses author Mick Herron, and The Pillars of the Earth author Ken Follett as well as Sir Ian Rankin, Ann Cleeves and Kate Mosse. 

Queen Camilla smiling © Getty Images
Queen Camilla arrives to attend a reception for the inaugural Queen's Reading Room Literary Festival

The royal launched The Reading Room back in 2021 and was relaunched as a charity in 2023. Speaking about the good that the charity has done - including new research commissioned by her literary project, she said: “In addition to our five a day and our 10,000 steps, we should all be aiming for at least five minutes of reading every day for invaluable benefits for brain health and mental wellbeing.

Queen Camilla warmly greets Dame Judi Dench © Getty Images
Queen Camilla warmly greeted Dame Judi Dench at the Reading Room Literary Festival in 2023

“Just as we always suspected, books are good for us – and now science is proving us right!”

The festival is set to take place at Hampton Court Palace on 8 June - and tickets are available now.

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