Queen takes centre stage at celebration of literature in East Sussex

The Queen took centre stage for a tea-time performance as she celebrated literature in East Sussex.

Camilla, wearing a peacock-feather patterned dress and sand-coloured coat, was welcomed to “Royal Rye” in the rain, greeted by crowds lining the cobbled streets as she arrived at the Church of Saint Mary as part of her tour of the county on Thursday.

Rev Paul White told her that when Queen Elizabeth I visited Rye in 1573 she dubbed the coastal town “Royal Rye”, adding: “So if you felt that was in your gift today, Royal Rye it is once again.”

The Queen met members of local organisations including the Royal Voluntary Service and Mothers’ Union at the church before walking along the street to Lamb House.

Royal visit to East Sussex
The Queen arrives at Lamb House (Gareth Fuller/PA)

She took flowers from well-wishers, including Julie Barker, 59, who said: “We are so excited to be here today. We really love her, she’s an amazing lady.”

The Queen also shook the hand of two-year-old Bobby Neal, who was wearing a yellow rain coat.

His mother, Emma Russell, 39, from Rye, said Bobby had earlier been saying “the Queen” as they waited to see her.

She said: “It was amazing, what a memory to have for life. He’s a bit overwhelmed.”

Royal visit to East Sussex
The Queen joined a garden party at Lamb House (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Historic Lamb House, once home to novelists Henry James, Rumer Godden and E.F. Benson, also hosts a literature collection the Queen viewed as part of a tour of the property.

Benson is known for his Mapp and Lucia novels, which were set in the fictional town of Tilling, based on Rye.

A celebration of Rye’s literary history was enjoyed at a garden party with guests including members of the Friends of Tilling, the E.F. Benson Society and staff and volunteers from the National Trust.

During the garden party reading performances of Mapp and Lucia were given by Oscar-winner Hayley Mills, and actor Timothy West, who sat next to the Queen as she was offered tea.

Royal visit to East Sussex
Timothy West and Prunella Scales (Gareth Fuller/PA)

TV entertainer Gyles Brandreth also spoke to the guests as he guided the Queen to her seat, saying: “You’re centre stage, with a cup of tea, this is a tea-time performance.”

Mr West’s wife, Prunella Scales, who played Miss Mapp in the 1985 TV series, was also at the celebration.

Earlier in the day the Queen attended Charleston Festival for its opening event, The Power Of Reading.