The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be heading to Stratford today for a series of events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.
Many stars from film and screen will also be in attendance.
The royal couple will visit several landmarks in Stratford such as the Holy Trinity Church; His Royal Highness is President of the Royal Shakespeare Company so they will visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Shakespeare’s final home at New Place.
On his visit to the Holy Trinity Church, The Rev. Patrick Taylor had this to say: “With so many wonderful places in Stratford that he could have seen, it’s a privilege for us to have been chosen as one of the hosts. We hope to give Prince Charles a taste of the life of our church, including the opportunity to meet local primary school pupils who helped to write our new family guide and to hear our wonderful choir singing a piece of music written by our director of music.
“We are also looking forward to showing him around our new extension and the refurbished St. Peter’s chapel, which has been restored back to how it was originally set out as a First World War memorial.”
Reverend Taylor was quite modest when he guessed the true reason for the Prince’s journey to Stratford. He said: “Of course I expect that the highlight of his time with us will be the opportunity for the Prince to visit the grave where William Shakespeare lies, on the actual day of the 400th anniversary of his death. We hope Prince Charles might lay a wreath there as we pause to remember our famous son of Stratford.”
He, too, is most excited to show His Royal Highness around the church, pointing out an art exhibition: “The prospect of showing a member of the Royal Family around your church is a fairly daunting one, but personally what I am looking forward to most is sharing with the Prince our fabulous new art exhibition, based on Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man. The artist, Jonathan Waller, will be on hand to tell Prince Charles more about the powerful images he has created. Most of all, I hope we can give the Prince a real sense that Holy Trinity church is more than just the final resting place for William Shakespeare, but a living and working parish church for all the people of Stratford.”
On Saturday evening, the Prince and an invited audience will be entertained by a cast of stellar musicians and actors as they watch Shakespeare Live at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This performance will also be broadcast on BBC2. The show is inspired by Shakespeare’s works to be performed in different musical genres such as hip-hop, blues, musical theatre, jazz, opera and classical numbers based on his plays.
David Tennant, Royal Shakespeare actor and former cast member from Dr. Who will host the event. He’ll be joined by such award-winning actors and musicians including: Judi Dench, Rufus Wainwright, Ian McKellen, Joseph Fiennes, English National Opera, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Paapa Essiedu – currently playing Hamlet – Alison Moyet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Al Murray and the Royal Ballet.
Gregory Doran, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company assembled this amazing cast. He will also direct the performance, which will also feature diverse actors and musicians including: “Helen Mirren, Gregory Porter, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Kinnear, Rufus Hound, Henry Goodman, The Shires, David Suchet, Simon Russell Beale, Roger Allam, Antony Sher, Harriet Walter, John Lithgow, Alexandra Gilbreath, Tim Minchin, Anne Marie Duff, Pippa Nixon, the Orchestra of the Swan, the cast of Horrible Histories and Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra.”
Mr. Doran, and Catherine Mallyon, executive director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said of the royals visit: “We are delighted that our President, The Prince of Wales, and The Duchess of Cornwall, will be visiting Stratford and in this very special year we are looking forward to welcoming them to Shakespeare Live! From the RSC, an event celebrating Shakespeare’s influence across the arts.”
CEO of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Diana Owen added: “We are delighted that we will be able to welcome HRH the Prince of Wales to Shakespeare’s New Place on this very special anniversary. The re-presentation of New Place is the biggest project we have undertaken in 50 years, and this visit will be a tremendous boost for the whole project team as we enter the final stage of the transformation for re-opening in July. Prince Charles will meet members of the outstanding team of artists, designers, craftspeople, staff, apprentices, volunteers and young people involved in the creation of this gateway to Shakespeare for the 21st century.”