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University of Chester student Niall Thomas, Chancellor of the University of Chester Gyles Brandreth, Aphra Brandreth, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, Dame Joanna Lumley, and University of Chester student Shantell Esse Agoreyo.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, Vice-Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, and Dame Joanna Lumley star in an episode of The Commonwealth Poetry Podcast, launched today, which will explore the poetry, heritage and people of each of the 54 countries of the Commonwealth. 

Hosted by the University's Chancellor Gyles Brandreth and his daughter, Aphra Brandreth, in 54 fortnightly thirty-minute episodes over the next two years, with different guests for every episode, The Commonwealth Poetry Podcast will celebrate the poetry of the Commonwealth with people from across the Commonwealth.   

In the first episode, recorded in the Garden Room at Clarence House in London T oOdayf the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda, The Duchess of Cornwall talks about The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room, her travels across the Commonwealth and her favourite British poets including Robert Burns, Ted Hughes and John Betjeman (who she knew). Her Royal Highness, Dame Joanna Lumley and Gyles and Aphra Brandreth also read poems together (alternating verses) encouraging people to meet up for informal poetry slams over tea and coffee with friends and neighbours. 

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Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, Dame Joanna Lumley, Aphra Brandreth and Gyles Brandreth, Chancellor of the University of Chester.
Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, Dame Joanna Lumley, Aphra Brandreth and Gyles Brandreth, Chancellor of the University of Chester.

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which takes place in Kigali, Rwanda during the week of 20th June. The Prince of Wales has been an active supporter of the Commonwealth for over fifty years. Together with The Duchess of Cornwall, Their Royal Highnesses have shown their support through official visits, military links, charitable activities and other special events such as the opening of the Commonwealth Games in 2010 in New Delhi, India; in 2014 Glasgow, Scotland and in 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. 

Gyles Brandreth says: “The podcast explores the wealth of literacy wonders across the Commonwealth. We are thrilled to have The Duchess of Cornwall and Dame Joanna Lumley as our first guests talking about the British poetry that matters to them. In our next episode we’re visiting Rwanda, a beautiful country with a troubled past, and meeting a Rwandan Poet who confronts both its beauty and its pain.  Then it’s St Kitts and Nevis, Cameroon, Solomon Islands, Australia, Cyprus.  In 54 episodes, we’re going around the Commonwealth – home to two and a half billion people – using poetry as our guide.  In some episodes there is singing and dancing, too.” 

The Commonwealth Poetry Podcast is produced by staff and students from the University of Chester, which counts The Duchess of Cornwall, Joanna Lumley and Gyles Brandreth among its honorary graduates. Her Royal Highness is also Countess of Chester. Niall Thomas and Shantell Esse Agoreyo, students from the University of Chester were present when the episode was recorded and have been involved in creating the final copy, along with fellow student Olowale Odumosu. 

Gyles Brandreth, added: “We currently have students and staff from 28 different Commonwealth countries at the University of Chester, and I’m thrilled that this project has provided a wonderful opportunity to showcase the impressive creative skills and talents of individuals from across the institution.”

The Duchess of Cornwall has long had an interest in literacy and in January 2021, launched The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room on Instagram @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom. The Duchess of Cornwall's Reading Room is a hub for literary communities around the world and celebrates literature in all its forms. It was inspired by the success of Her Royal Highness's reading lists shared during the pandemic in 2020 and offers new seasons of book recommendations, as well as exclusive insight from the authors themselves, in a community space for book lovers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.  

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