Queen and stars attend literary festival at Hampton Court Palace

Camilla and stars including Dame Judi Dench joined thousands of literature lovers at the event.

The Queen joined thousands of literature lovers at the inaugural Queen’s Reading Room Literary Festival at Hampton Court Palace on Sunday.

Despite being delayed by poor weather, she arrived just in time for the final performance of the day by Dame Judi Dench and Gyles Brandreth.

Seated on a stage erected in the palace’s open-air courtyard, the pair improvised scenes from Shakespeare and swapped anecdotes from their careers as the sun set.

A huge cheer went up from the crowd to welcome Dame Judi to the stage, and Mr Brandreth said: “Isn’t it exciting?”

Queen’s Reading Room Literary Festival
Dame Judi Dench is greeted by Gyles Brandreth at the festival (Jonathan Brady/PA)

She replied: “Especially as we haven’t rehearsed.”

The performance, attended by an estimated 2,900 guests, featured backstage warm-up exercises, complete with audience engagement, a rendition of The Owl And The Pussycat and guest appearances from Ben Elton and Sir Derek Jacobi.

At one point, Dame Judi launched into an impromptu Shakespeare soliloquy, leaving the audience captivated.

Mr Brandreth said: “We’re thrilled that the Queen is here tonight.

“To have a King and Queen who take real joy in the world of the arts, whose love of the arts is truly authentic, it’s fantastic.”

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