Catherine Mallyon (RSC Executive Director) and Erica Whyman (RSC Acting Artistic Director) reflect on the death of Her Majesty The Queen.

“We are deeply saddened at the news of the Queen’s death, and our thoughts are with her family, and particularly His Majesty The King. Her Majesty The Queen was Patron of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1961, when the Company was created."

Her Majesty the Queen opens the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 2011
HM The Queen opens the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 2011.
Photo by Stewart Hemley © RSC Browse and license our images

“Her Majesty last visited us in Stratford-upon-Avon on 4 March 2011, to open formally the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This was a memorable day in the history of the RSC where she met and talked with members of the Company and those involved in the redevelopment and transformation of the theatre.

“It was a great pleasure for us to rehearse with [the former] HRH The Prince of Wales in preparation for his poetic tribute to his mother on her 90th birthday in 2016. We were honoured to be part of such a special moment. 

“Shakespeare’s Henry VIII contains a prophecy by Archbishop Cranmer about the baby princess Elizabeth I:

She shall be, to the happiness of England,
An aged princess; many days shall see her,
And yet no day without a deed to crown it.

Translated to our times, Elizabeth II sought the happiness of her realm with her steadfast service, certainly lived many days, and did a great deed on every one.”

We intend to go ahead with performances and events throughout the national mourning period, in line with official guidance. Any performances and events on the day of The Queen’s funeral will be cancelled with ticket holders contacted directly.

State funeral screening 

The state funeral of Her Majesty The Queen will take place at Westminster Abbey on Monday 19 September at 11am. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be open for visitors to join together to watch a screening of the event. Our doors will open at 10am and the auditorium at 10.15am. This will be a ‘chilled’ event, so you can come in and out of the auditorium throughout the screening. It's free to attend, but booking is essential.

Book seats

Her Majesty The Queen opens the Swan Theatre in November 1986.
Photo by Joe Cocks © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Browse and license our images

Reflections on the death of our Patron

On the Thursday 8 September performance of Richard III in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon addressed the audience, acknowledging the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Our Artistic Director Emeritus, Gregory Doran spoke the following words in tribute to Her Majesty:

“’Now boast thee, death, in thy possession lies
A lass unparallel’d’"
(Charmian on Queen Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra Act 5 Scene 2)                                                    

"The RSC’s Patron, Her Majesty the Queen has been as Shakespeare says 'a pattern to all princes living’. In her 70-year reign, she has lived ‘many days/ And yet no day without a deed to crown it’, a selfless ruler, with an unparalleled sense of duty."
(Cranmer’s prophecy about Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VIII or All is True Act 5, Scene 4)

"Shakespeare articulates what he describes as the attributes we expect, we require and we demand of our monarch. Queen Elizabeth, to her country’s great benefit, amply demonstrated, every single one of them:

‘Such king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, and fortitude’."
(Malcolm, Macbeth Act 4, Scene 3)

"Queen Elizabeth was indeed ‘A lass unparallel’d’. Our thoughts are with our President, now our new monarch, and his family."

"Long live the King.”

The National Anthem was then played as the audience stood in silence.

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