HRH Princess Beatrice spoke about her struggle with dyslexia, and told pupils with the condition they have “magical” brains that just process differently, when she visited two South London schools recently.
The Queen’s granddaughter (pictured on the left) paid a visit to ARK Globe Academy in Elephant and Castle and Bolingbroke Academy near Clapham Junction to see how pupils are supported by the Drive for Literacy programme, a partnership between ARK Schools and the Driver Youth Trust, to develop their reading and writing skills.
“Dyslexia is not a pigeonhole to say you can’t do anything”, she told a group of dyslexic pupils; “It is an opportunity and a possibility to learn differently…Don’t feel like you should be held back by it.”
The Princess was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of seven and she described it as “a bit of a struggle” to begin with. “It was a challenge as I began my school career – spelling and reading was something I couldn’t really get my head around. I created what I describe as a ‘toolkit’ for myself of skills you learn and pick up over the years, which I still have to use today. A lot of my best friends were dyslexic so we used to study together, working at our own pace”, she said.
The Princess revealed that she didn’t like reading until the Harry Potter books came out when she was eleven: “The second the story came out, I couldn’t put it down. Now I read so much quicker, so much better and I studied history at university which involved a lot of reading.”
Praising the work of the schools visited, Princess Beatrice discussed how important a dyslexia friendly environment had been to her own education. “The most important thing was having great teachers who took the time to make sure we were all really well supported. I did a lot of extra classes, a lot of practice, and a lot of asking questions”, she said.