The Queen's speech at a reception to mark the results of The Queen’s Reading Room study

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We share a very special bond, ladies and gentlemen – our love of books. Thank you for helping to spread the word.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a huge pleasure to welcome you to Clarence House this evening to mark the third anniversary of my Reading Room as a book club and its first as a charity.

This year is also the 125th anniversary of the birth of the late, great Sir Noel Coward. He was a brilliant and very funny man who, as a friend of The Queen Mother, came to many events here. I doubt, however, that this reception will be quite as hair-raising as that in The Master’s song, “I went to a marvellous party” with its wonderful lines:

We knew the excitement was bound to begin When Laura got blind on Dubonnet and gin And scratched her veneer with a Cartier pin I couldn't have liked it more

Interestingly, Coward frequently said he wasn’t really one for parties, but that he would rather be at home with an apple and a good book. While I hope that none of you is currently wishing the same, it is, of course, primarily our shared love of good books that has brought us together this evening – that and the need to celebrate and thank you all and to do all we can to promote a passion for reading. And for that, there is no better inspiration than the man of the hour, Noel Coward, who left school at 9 and attributed all his later learning to his membership of the Battersea Park Library and to reading everything he could lay his hands on.

As we are about to hear from Vicki, in addition to our 5 a day and our 10,000 steps, we should all be aiming for at least 5 minutes of reading every day for invaluable benefits for brain health and mental well-being. Just as we always suspected, books are good for us – and now science is proving us right!

Thanks to all of you, the Reading Room is doing what it can to spread the word about how literature, quite simply, makes life better. Since it began three years ago, it has reached nearly 12 million people through all its platforms, produced more than a thousand pieces of educational literary content and had its inaugural festival at Hampton Court, attended by almost 8,000 people from as far afield as the United States, Canada, Northern Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It’s also launched a podcast, which this year will take us into the “reading rooms” of 32 captivating writers, actors and thinkers. And now, this first study sees us embarking on an important journey to understand the science behind the power of stories to enrich our lives.

This would not have been possible without all of you: your talents, your imagination, your originality, your support and, most of all, your profound love of the written word.

When Noel Coward died, as it happens, 51 years ago tonight, on 26th March 1973, he had a book in his hand. It was by his favourite author, the children’s writer, E Nesbit, who famously once said, “There is no bond like the bond of having read and liked the same books”.

We share a very special bond, ladies and gentlemen – our love of books. Thank you for helping to spread the word.

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