Prince Charles led the celebrations on what would've been the seminal English novelist CHARLES DICKENS' 200th birthday. Charles was at a service held at Westminster Abbey to mark the anniversary and laid a wreathe at the author's grave in Poet's Corner. The Prince of Wales was there with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall and the pair also went to visit the Charles DICkens Museum in London as part of the occasion. The pair were read to by US actress Gillian Anderson, who played Miss Havisham in the Bbc's adaptation of classic DICkens book 'Great Expectations,' and she commented about how pleasant she found their company. "I was very impressed by how relaxed and how much fun they are," said Anderson, "They're very funny and like to have a joke."
Elsewhere, actor and biographer Simon Callow was at St Mary's Church in Portsmouth, where DICkens was born. Reading from what's considered the writer's most autobiographical work, 'David Copperfield,' he commented afterwards "I really made the strong decision to come to the place where he was born rather than to Westminster Cathedral where he never wanted to be." DICkens had been interred at Westminster Abbey following a public outcry at his will to be buried at Rochester Cathedral. Actress Sheila Hancock joined Callow in Portsmouth and read from 'Oliver Twist.'
Other celebrations of DICkens life have included 24 hour readathons the world-over. The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall commented, "DICkens's humanity and compassion made an extraordinary impact on Victorian England through his writings, which remain immensely popular. This bicentenary should help renew our commitment to improving the lot of the disadvantaged of our own day."