“The Missing Monarch: A Discussion on Queen Camilla’s Book Podcast”
In reality, there are only two possible motivations for someone to tune in to a podcast called The Queen’s Reading Room. The first being a strong interest in reading and the second, a deep admiration for the Queen. Therefore, it is unfortunate to report that half of the podcast’s listeners are likely to walk away feeling greatly disappointed.
The Queen’s Reading Room is a spin-off podcast of Queen Camilla’s charitable book club, where she suggests books for her devoted followers to read. Some of the recommended titles have included Frankenstein, Lessons in Chemistry, and The Year of Eating Dangerously by a lesser-known author named Tom Parker Bowles. The idea of branching out into podcasts is a logical next step, as it would allow listeners to hear the Queen’s in-depth discussions about her favorite books, potentially with guests who could offer diverse perspectives and challenge her interpretations. This could be a great way to humanize a monarchy that may seem distant and disconnected from everyday people.
Unfortunately, this is not The Queen’s Reading Room as you may have thought. It is actually a very ordinary podcast that features author interviews. Towards the end, Camilla briefly mentions her enjoyment of Harry Potter but declines to do any character voices before quickly leaving in a cloud of cigarette smoke and gin smell. In short, this podcast does not offer any insights into the Queen.
Sir Ian Rankin kicks off the podcast as the first guest, enthusiastically answering a range of fairly general inquiries about his top reading material for a solid 20 minutes. The podcast’s unconventional structure results in the removal of all the specific questions from the audio, creating the illusion that Rankin is aimlessly rambling about himself under threat of harm. In contrast, when he appeared on the You’re Booked podcast with a live interviewer in October, he was much more enthusiastic and likeable.
The second installment has a livelier tone due to its focus on Joanna Lumley. Although not as well-known as Rankin, she exudes enthusiasm and a sense of secrecy, often speaking directly to the audience in her charmingly scattered discussions about the pleasures of reading for leisure. Lumley’s performance is so impressive that one may even feel compelled to overthrow the monarchy and make her the leader, just so she can host this podcast instead of Camilla.
This concept had the potential to be a success, but unfortunately, it was not fully utilized. If Camilla had fully embraced it, the podcast could have been a disaster but at least it would have been intriguing. Perhaps if she had recorded the introduction herself instead of delegating it to someone else, it would have added some character to the project. If she had taken it a step further and fully committed to the genre by incorporating sponsored ad reads for vitamin supplements and Amazon Prime Video, I may have been more inclined to listen regularly.
We are left with a deep feeling of emptiness. There are already plenty of podcasts in existence, so the last thing we need is one created by a woman who doesn’t even bother to appear properly. And there wasn’t even a high standard to meet in this case. Before The Queen’s Reading Room, the only member of the royal family sharing literary content online was Sarah Ferguson, who would dress up and read children’s books on YouTube. Her videos resemble messages filmed by a hostage trying to communicate with their family, but at least they have some character. Based on the first two episodes, it is unlikely that The Queen’s Reading Room will ever achieve this level of personality.