The Queen shared her love of poetry with actress Helena Bonham Carter and others tonight/last night at a Clarence House reception for the Forward Arts Foundation.
She told them how she can still recite off by heart her favourite poem, Matilda by Hilaire Belloc, and celebrated the joy of the art form with guests gathered at her London residence to mark the 30th anniversary of the foundation.
“I can still recite Matilda,” she told Ms Bonham Carter, 57, who said: “The longer ago we learned it the easier it comes back.”
The evening was a celebration of the work of publisher William Sieghart, who started the foundation and is the man behind National Poetry Day, the Forward Prizes for Poetry, and an annual anthology of the year’s best poems.
He said Britons consumed more poetry than they realised and more than many other nations, often unwittingly through radio jingles or greeting card verses.
“Actually it is our greatest cultural export to the world. English is the language of Shakespeare after all,” he said.
Guests, who included actresses Natashcha McElhone and Denise Gough and other supporters of the foundation, spoke of their love of poetry and paid tribute to Mr Sieghart for his work promoting literature.
Camilla, who was wearing a blue peacock print silk dress by Fiona Clare, listened as Ms Bonham Carter read a poem, Yes, by William Stafford after an impromptu speech by Mr Sieghart.
It emerged, however that the Forward Prizes for Poetry are looking for a new sponsor after 30 years. Bookmark Content, the publisher, is ending its sponsorship.
A spokeswoman for the foundation said many literary prizes were struggling for sponsorship in the current economic climate.