Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, has earned rave reviews for her reading of the book The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark. On her colorfully decorated set, the future queen connected with her young audience without relying on her royal title, unlike her sister-in-law Meghan Markle who read her book The Bench last year.
CBeebies Bedtime Stories is a show featuring various celebrities reading bedtime stories to children, and Catherine is now the first royal to participate.
For her book, Catherine chose a favorite of hers as a child, and dressed casually in a sweater and a camp fireside set up.
Introducing herself to her young audience, the Duchess said, “Hello, my name is Catherine and tonight we’re in my bedtime story den. I’ve chosen a story which I remember reading as a little girl.
“It’s called The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark and is written by Jill Tomlinson and illustrated by Paul Howard. Let’s begin…”
After reading the book, the future queen concluded, “Wow, what an encouraging tale.
“We can all feel scared sometimes, just like our little owl friend, Plop. But, as Mrs. Barn Owl said, it’s better to find out about the things that scare us before we make up our mind.
“And with the help of others, we can often face things that worry us. Now it’s time for bed. Night, night, and sleep tight.”
Catherine read this book as part of Children’s Mental Health Week, which fits in well with her desire as a royal to support well-being of children.
And it’s not just the children who were highly impressed.
Writing for The Telegraph, Judith Woods wrote, “Kate read exceedingly well, which is to say with just the right amount of expression and élan so even the Mumsnetters reluctantly enjoyed it and everyone, including the body language expert agreed that when she said it was time for all the children went to bed, that’s exactly how it happened.
“In truth, her ten-minute historic broadcast was over almost before it began. But it was wonderful and memorable and served as a humble reminder that a 21st century princess doesn’t need a crown to command attention; a book, a smile and an expensive Fair Isle sweater will do nicely.”
No doubt, Catherine’s sister-in-law is stewing in her Montecito mansion.
In 2021, Meghan Markle read her own book The Bench to children as part of Brightly Storytime, which is associated with the Sussex’s publisher Random House.
While Catherine’s reading commanded world attention, Meghan’s not so much. The former actress’ video got an overwhelming number of thumbs down votes, and the reviews for the book were generally negative.
One reviewer wrote, “It is mind-boggling, really, how bad the book is. There is no story, just a series of platitudes about paternal love that at best might appeal to a highly emotional father, insecure in his new role. … Perhaps Meghan has fallen into the same trap as many new parents, who are puffed-up with confidence at their ability to invent stories for their own children and begin to wonder how hard it could be to write a children’s book. … It makes for a beautiful gift—for Harry. Just not for anyone else.”
But most notably, there is one critical difference between Catherine and Meghan’s storytime reading. Meghan had to rely on her royal title to command attention, Catherine didn’t.
Meghan, in her introduction, said, “Hi, I’m Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.”
In order to make herself and her book relevant, Meghan had to make sure to include her royal title, which most young children wouldn’t care about or understand. If she was a princess and wearing a tiara, sure the children would be impressed, but being a “duchess” doesn’t mean much to a young child.
Catherine was reaching out to children and understands children. She let her audience know that her name is just “Catherine.”