royals-reading

Royal reading inspiration: Kate, Meghan and Camilla's favourite books to entertain you during lockdown

We take a look at the books the royals love

Natasha Hornsby

One upside of being stuck at home is that we've now got the time to dive into a book, just like our favourite royals. Here you'll find something for everyone, from Meghan Markle's powerful self-help books to Kate's classic English gems. Not to mention the Duchess of Cornwall's love for winners of the Booker Prize. She also has some recommendations for the youngest bookworms. Read on for some royal literary inspiration…

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The Duchess of Sussex

In these uncertain times, you'll find comfort in Meghan's empowering reads. She draws strength from The Four Agreements, a study of the self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy, and The Tao of Pooh, given to the Duchess by her mother, Doria Ragland, when she was 13. Written in the voice of Winnie the Pooh, it's a humorous whizz through the Eastern belief system of Taoism.

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More life lessons are to be found in The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard and Who Moved My Cheese?, which was recommended by her professor at Northwestern University. The former blogger told readers of her website The Tig that she loved the message of When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir written by a dying neurosurgeon, and that she was "obsessed" with French classic The Little Prince. On her Sussex Royal Instagram, she also promoted poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou and Leo Buscaglia, a professor of special education who came up with the theory that we need five hugs a day to survive, eight to maintain our well-being and 12 to thrive.

Reflecting Meghan's interest in fashion her shelves hold lighter reading too, with tomes on Audrey Hepburn and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as Grace: A Memoir, from legendary fashion editor Grace Coddington, and Jackie: The Clothes of Camelot, about the First Lady.

the-motivation-manifesto

The Motivation Manifesto, £12.79, Amazon

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grace-a-memoir

Grace: A Memoir, £8.59, Amazon

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The Duchess of Cambridge

The Duchess of Cambridge loves the classics, as seen in a recent photo at her Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, which showed a selection of Penguin books on her desk. Titles included A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings, Sense and Sensibility, The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Odyssey.

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sense-and-sensibility

Sense And Sensibility, £4.99, Amazon

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The Duchess of Cornwall

As patron of the National Literacy Trust, Camilla is keen to get young ones reading. The Duchess credits her father, "a fervent bibliophile", with fostering her own love of books. On World Book Day 2018, she wrote: "Whether it was the dashing Scarlet Pimpernel escaping the French Revolutionaries, the inquisitive Alice in the madness of Wonderland or Dickens' Oliver Twist asking bravely for a second helping in the workhouse, my father's reading brought them vividly to life."

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She's sure children (both little and big) will be thrilled with David Walliams's Gangsta Granny as well as The Big Friendly Giant, The Hungry Caterpillar and The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Like many avid readers, she loves the Harry Potter novels, which Prince Charles, "a brilliant mimic", reads to her grandchildren. "He does all the voices," she says, leaving them "spellbound".

For adults, Camilla recommends the winners of the Booker Prize, which she's supported since 2013. She held a reception at Clarence House for 2019's joint winners – Margaret Atwood, who triumphed with The Testaments, a sequel to the dystopian Handmaid's Tale, and Bernardine Evaristo, author of Girl, Woman, Other about 12 women navigating patriarchy. The previous year the Duchess presented the prize to Northern Irish writer Anna Burns, who penned The Milkman, set during the Troubles.

the-tiger-who-came-to-tea

The Tiger Who Came To Tea, £5.99, Amazon

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books-testaments

The Testaments, £7.49, Amazon

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Prince Charles

Like his wife, Charles inherited a love of reading from his father. He's always remembered the "electrifying moment" Prince Philip introduced him to The Song of Hiawatha, American wordsmith Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem about a heroic Native American warrior. Other treats were Rudyard Kipling's Just So stories and Shakespeare. As an adult, he was influenced by his friend and mentor Laurens van der Post, a South African author, philosopher and travel writer. His best-known books are a critique of the Apartheid system entitled The Dark Eye of Africa, and The Lost World of the Kalahari, about the San bushmen.

The Prince himself has also contributed to many books on gardening, the environment, architecture and English culture. Of the pleasure he takes in great writing, Charles says: "I have always loved the way you can twist or turn a word to shade it with a different meaning and I marvel at how great writers use so few words to evoke a feeling, a sense of place or the depths of a character."

Queen Letizia of Spain

Across the Channel, Queen Letizia of Spain is also an avid bookworm. In their engagement interview, Letizia said she'd fallen for her husband King Felipe because he's "a great reader". To mark their engagement, she gave him a first edition of a 19th century novel about courtly love.

Letizia has huge intellectual curiosity, enjoying poetry and philosophy. She devours the works of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Slovenian professor Slavoj Žižek, known as the Elvis of cultural theory. The Spanish Queen is also a fan of British classicist Mary Beard. On her recommended reading list is SPQR, an engaging journey through the history of the Roman Empire, and Siri Hustvedt's A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women, a collection of essays on art, feminism, neuroscience and psychology.

As a former journalist, Letizia enjoys the writing of legendary Polish pressman Ryszard Kapuscinski, who witnessed 27 revolutions and coups in his time reporting from the world's hotspots. Her favourite fiction encompasses modern classics such as Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq, and Killing Commendatore by Japanese master Haruki Murakami.

letizia-book

Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco

The Monegasque royal often has multiple books on the go at once. Usually on her bedside table are poems by Emily Dickinson and the novels of Maupassant and Flaubert. A graduate of the Sorbonne, Charlotte also put her name to a philosophy treatise entitled Archipelago of Passions based on conversations with her philosophy professor Robert Maggiori about emotions such as arrogance, joy, cruelty and love.

Queen Mathilde of Belgium

During her courtship with King Philippe, Mathilde took to hiding out in bookshops so that paparazzi wouldn't capture her on camera. Now, as Queen of Belgium, the former speech therapist is encouraging families to spend their time in self-isolation reading and keeping journals about their feelings. Asked about the books that have changed her life, she chose Helen Keller's autobiography and Oscar and the Pink Lady by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, about a ten-year-old boy with terminal cancer whose parents refuse to discuss his impending death. The lady of the title, a volunteer nurse, helps him to face his fears.

Mother-of-four Mathilde also highlighted Sleepwalkers, Christopher Clark's detailed analysis of what caused World War I, and The Virtues of Failure by Charles Pépin, which argues for us to see mistakes as the basis for growth and self-development. "Our failures are sometimes even a real treasure," says the queen, who underlines particularly meaningful passages in colour. "We have to take the risk of living to discover them, and share them to experience their worth. This book was a lesson to me."

oscar-book

Princess Mette-Marit of Norway

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn is one of the Norwegian princess's favourite psychological thrillers. The unsettling novel follows a TV presenter who runs away from her life and partner after a workplace scandal. But will a housekeeping job with a surly employer who lives by a remote fjord improve her situation? Among the other modern Scandi authors that Mette-Marit loves are Carl Frode Tiller, Olaug Nilssen, Marit Eikemo, Monica Isakstuen, Helge Torvund and Zesan Shakar.

Every year the poetry-loving Crown Princess hosts a 'literature train' on which she travels to promote literature to young people. It's her belief that: "Good books have an ability to say something about who we are, and more importantly who we want to be. Good literature moves us to a new understanding of ourselves and the world around us. To see ourselves literature is vital."

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