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Royal News

To be or not to be: Queen Camilla celebrates Shakespeare

Queen Camilla was surrounded by dames on Valentine’s Day as she marked a celebration of William Shakespeare’s life—and received well-wishes for King Charles.

All guests had a special link to William Shakespeare—actors and actresses who have brought his work to life, representatives of The Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theare, and others—at the reception at Grosvenor House in London.

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Gyles Brandreth, noted author and friend of the royals, hosted the event on behalf of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

Among the guests were a series of dames and ladies, all of whom posed with Queen Camilla for a group photograph: Dame Judi Dench, Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Penelope Keith, Dame Joanna Lumley, Dame Virginia McKenna, Dame Twiggy Lawson, and Baroness Floella Benjamin.

Other guests included Gary Oldman, Jeremy Irons, Robert Lindsay, Julian Glover, Brian Cox, Sir Simon Russell Beale, Sir David Suchet, and Dame Vanessa Redgrave.

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The Queen was joined by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Lady Sarah Chatto, Lady Gabriella Kingston and Thomas Kingston, and Freddie Windsor and Sophie Winkleman.

The King, who has made no secret of his admiration for Shakespeare, received a get well soon card with a line from ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’: “Tis our hope, Sir, to return/ And find Your Grace in good health.”

Brandreth gave a toast to the royals as well, saying: “a King and Queen whose love for literature and the arts is so deep rooted, so real and so supportive, it’s wonderful for us and it’s wonderful for our country.”

He later presented the Queen with matching heart jumpers: a Valentine’s Day gift for the King and Queen.

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Before the reception ended, a series of actors performed readings of Shakespearean work from the first folio—a collection of 36 plays published in 1623.

In 2023, the Royal Family was at the forefront celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s first folio. King Charles and Queen Camilla hosted a reception at Windsor Castle last summer to mark the 400th anniversary.

Actor Stephen Fry said of King Charles and Queen Camilla: “We are incredibly lucky to have a King and Queen who are so powerfully supporting the arts, particularly at a time of such savage cuts.

“Whatever you think of the monarchy, their role is to bind the nation together, and they are doing that.”

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.