Her Majesty The Queen was our Patron until her death on 8 September 2022. We look back at some of the special visits she made to our theatres and the memories we have of her.
Queen Elizabeth II's relationship with Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare, which began with the gift of a set of Shakespeare volumes which she was given by the town for her 18th birthday.
1957: Visiting Stratford-upon-Avon
In June 1957, Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh made a special trip to the town. They visited Shakespeare's Birthplace, the Town Hall and attended an anniversary performance of As You Like It, with a cast including Dame Peggy Ashcroft, at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre.
1975: Opening the Centenary Garden
On the afternoon of Friday 27 June 1975, The Queen was in Stratford again; this time to perform the opening ceremony of the theatre’s Centenary Garden
Two years later, in 1977, the town celebrated her Silver Jubilee with street parties and parades, as they would mark her Platinum Jubilee in June 2022.
1986: Opening the Swan Theatre
In 1986, The Queen re-opened our much-loved Swan Theatre, which had finally been restored following the fire of 1926. The re-opened auditorium, used as a conference room and rehearsal space for years, was designed around the shell of the original 1875 theatre.
The Queen visited Stratford-upon-Avon for the official opening ceremony on 13 November 1986. The ceremony was held during the day and in the evening we presented Thomas Heywood's The Fair Maid of the West to an invited audience.
The cast included Pete Postlethwaite, Sean Bean, Imelda Staunton and Simon Russell Beale.
Ten years later, in 1996, Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh returned to Stratford to unveil the stainless steel swan statue on the Bancroft Garden, and joined in the celebration of the return of swans to the town.
The statue commemorates the 800th anniversary of granting of market rights by King Richard I in 1196. Flowers have been laid at the statue in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II at her death.
2011: Opening the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh visited to officially open the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in March, following our three-year construction project. She met several members of the company and took part in a ceremony that included a performance of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.