Friday, 23 Feb 2024

Camilla attack forces U-turn on Roald Dahl censorship

Queen Consort Camilla gives a speech at Clarence House

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The Queen has forced Roald Dahl’s publisher to back down over censorship of his books. It comes after Camilla’s impassioned speech before a group of leading authors about attempts to “curb” freedom of expression.

Sources had revealed the Queen’s “shock and dismay” at plans to remove words from some of the late author’s much-loved children’s books in case they caused offence.

But on Friday Dahl’s publisher backtracked and said his work would continue to appear in its original form.

Royal author Phil Dampier is certain Camilla’s intervention was crucial in persuading the publishers to back down.

He told the Express: “This shows Camilla being acutely aware of the influence she has and using it with great subtlety and to great effect. She did not actually mention Roald Dahl by name, but she did not have to.

“Instead, she spoke to a group of distinguished authors about the dangers of those attempting to curb their freedom of expression or impose limits on their imaginations. In case there was any doubt about what she was talking about she added a mischievous ‘enough said’ at the end of her remarks.

“Everyone in that room knew exactly what she was talking about and it was the censorship of Dahl.

“I’m sure that Camilla’s intervention and the reaction to it have been key factors in persuading the publishers to come to their senses and that is a good thing.

“This shows not only that Camilla has retained her sense of humour but that she can use it effectively to achieve positive outcomes.”

Camilla’s remarks came after publishers Puffin announced they had removed words thought capable of causing offence. They had deleted references to weight, height, mental health, gender and skin colour.

But, after Camilla’s intervention on Thursday, Puffin announced they will continue to publish Dahl’s work in the original format. The edited “inoffensive” versions of his work will still also be published by Puffin.

Francesca Dow, a managing director at Penguin, of which Puffin is a children’s imprint, said: “We’ve listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation.

“We also recognise the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print.”

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