King Charles Celebrates 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's Plays
On Tuesday, King Charles will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the publication of William Shakespeare's plays in a collective form. The event will bring together actors and directors to honor the bard's literary contributions, celebrating a book that holds immense significance in English literature.
In his first speech as king, Charles paid tribute to his late mother, Queen Elizabeth, by quoting lines from Hamlet: "May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." The upcoming gathering at Windsor Castle, hosted by King Charles and Queen Camilla, will celebrate the first Folio, featuring performances of extracts from Julius Caesar and The Tempest. This event provides an opportunity for the King, who has been on the throne for ten months, to promote causes close to his heart, particularly those related to culture and the environment. As a long-standing supporter of the arts, Charles's interest in Shakespeare traces back to his boarding school days when he played the title role in Macbeth in 1965.
One of the most memorable displays of his enthusiasm for Shakespeare was in 2016 when he participated in a Hamlet skit alongside esteemed actors such as Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, and David Tennant, commemorating 400 years since the playwright's death.
The significance of the Folio cannot be overstated, as it preserved Macbeth and 17 other plays that might have been lost otherwise. Compiled by Shakespeare's friends seven years after his death, the Folio included previously unpublished plays. During the celebration, a copy of the Folio will be showcased for attendees.
Charles's deep appreciation for Shakespeare's work stems from the bard's profound insights into royal struggles, encapsulated in lines like "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" from Henry IV, Part II. As the sovereign, Charles, now 74 years old, aspires to shape a monarchy that is relevant for the future, using Shakespeare's poetic words as a unifying force among the diverse cultures that constitute modern-day Britain.
Since 1991, King Charles has served as the president of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a theater and learning charity that strives to make Shakespeare's plays accessible to a broader audience, including schools.
At the reception in Windsor Castle, actors, including Simon Russell Beale and Harriet Walter, two of Britain's most esteemed stage actors, will deliver performances to mark this special occasion.