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Queen Camilla in London to Celebrate 'Poetry Together' & Honour RAF Heroine

The King and Queen are marking their first summer in Balmoral. It's a significant time, with a host of family members coming and going. Though we're only a year into the new reign, we're very much seeing Their Majesties' tried and true method of supporting causes close to their hearts, in tandem with the more ceremonial aspects of their new roles. Camilla returned to London for engagements beginning with a 'Poetry Together' recital and tea party at Fielding Primary School.

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The Poetry Initiative was launched four years ago by broadcaster and writer Gyles Brandreth in partnership with National Poetry Day and Dukes Education. Camilla supported the initiative since its inception, and championing literacy, both at home and abroad, is a cornerstone of her work.

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Buckingham Palace said: "As a grandmother, Her Majesty understands the joy of reading, but also the importance of literacy in creating life opportunities. Another of Her Majesty’s key focuses is supporting the older generation – encouraging them to stay active, and to feel valued and independent, tackling the isolation and seclusion that many older people can face."

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Camilla enjoyed recitals and presented certificates before cutting a cake.

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The Queen was said to be especially touched by a beautiful poem penned by eleven-year-old Benjamin about his sister's battle with cancer.

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More from the Mail Online:

'Gyles Brandreth, founder of the Poetry Together group and a friend of the Queen, said: 'She was very touched by the young person's poem about his sister.'

When Camilla met Benjamin and Madeleine she told him: 'It was obviously your poem that made her better.' Benjamin's mother Melissa, 39, who lives in Cambridge so the family can be near Addenbrooke's Hospital, said Madeleine was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was two. 

Melissa said: 'She is in remission now. We have three more years until she is in the clear, hopefully. But everything is going well so far.' She said of Benjamin's poem Torn Apart, which won a Poetry Together prize last year: 'I still cry every time he reads it. 

'It is so beautiful. It is wonderful that something so meaningful and touching came out of this.'

Camilla wore her Bombshell London 'Grace' peacock print dress, her Kiki McDonough Apollo pendant and Van Cleef & Arpels Alahambra bracelet. The dress style is inspired by Grace Kelly's effortless fashion choices.

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From there, the Queen visited the RAF Club in London to unveil a very special portrait of SOE Operative Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan GC and formally announce the name of a room in her honour.

The story of the heroic Khan is a haunting one:

'Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan was born in Moscow, in 1914, to an Indian father and American mother. She moved to London at a young age before settling in Paris for her school years. Following the fall of France during the Second World War, Khan escaped to England and joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. In late 1942, she was recruited into the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

Khan was the first female operator to be infiltrated into enemy occupied France to aid the French Resistance, landing by Lysander aircraft on 16th June 1943. Despite the Gestapo targeting the Paris Resistance Group, to which she was detailed, Khan refused to leave her post and return to England.

Khan was eventually caught and taken to the Gestapo headquarters but refused to cooperate with the Nazis and decode seized messages.

On 12th September 1944, Khan was moved to Dachau Camp and, on arrival, executed. Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.'

More background information from the Royal Air Force Club:

'Noor was the first woman SOE operator to be infiltrated into France, and was landed by Lysander aircraft on 16 June 1943. During the following weeks, the Gestapo arrested most of the Paris Resistance Group in which she worked. Despite the danger, Noor refused to return to England because she did not wish to leave her French comrades without communications and she hoped also to rebuild the Group. The Gestapo had a full description of Noor, who they knew only by her code name "Madeleine", and in October 1943 she was captured by them.

Despite brutal interrogation she refused to give any information, either as to her work or her colleagues. She was imprisoned in Gestapo HQ, during which time she made two unsuccessful attempts at escape, and was then sent to Germany for so called "safe custody". She was considered to be a particularly dangerous and uncooperative prisoner. On 12 September, she was moved to Dachau Concentration Camp where she was subjected to further brutal treatment, then taken to the crematorium and shot. Khan displayed the most conspicuous courage, both moral and physical, over a period of more than 12 months.'

Camilla had the opportunity to meet Shaik Mahmood, Noor Inayat Khan’s cousin, before unveiling the portrait by Paul Brason, a former president of the Society of Portrait Painters. His work can be found proudly displayed at the National Portrait Gallery.

A RAF Club spokesperson revealed: "The portrait now hangs opposite the stained glass window which celebrates Women in the Royal Air Force (RAF). This was unveiled by The Late Queen Elizabeth II in 2018. The stained glass window highlights female roles in the RAF since its inception in 1918. Queen Camilla named this room formally as the 'Noor Inayat Khan Room'."

Camilla meets Squadron Leader Imam Ali Omar.

The Queen was presented with a copy of The Spy Princess – the Life of Noor Inyat Khan, by its author, Shrabani Basu. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it feature as part of the Queen's Reading Room in the future.

Afterwards, the Queen attended a reception with female representatives from the RAF to hear about their experiences.

Camilla repeated her Samantha Sung green spot print dress.


  1. Everyone expects the royals to support the military and veterans in their work, so it comes as no surprise that the Queen does this sort of work.
    The championing of literacy is very much her thing though, and I applaud her for her work to inspire people to read.

  2. I enjoyed reading about Camilla's ongoing promotion of literacy, and the life of Noor Inyat Khan was new to me and very interesting.


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