Shropshire Star

Queen enjoys evening of Shakespeare featuring Dame Judi Dench and Gary Oldman

Camilla was given two matching jumpers with a heart on them as a gift by event host Gyles Brandreth.

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Queen Camilla attends a Celebration of Shakespeare

The Queen witnessed performances by Dame Judi Dench, Gary Oldman and Robert Lindsay at a star-studded event celebrating the work of William Shakespeare.

Camilla was greeted on her arrival at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel by a host of actors who have played Hamlet including Brian Cox, Jeremy Irons and David Mitchell.

She was then received by a dozen dames, including Dame Twiggy Lawson, Dame Vanessa Redgrave and Baroness Floella Benjamin.

On Valentine’s Day, Camilla was given two matching jumpers with a heart on them as a gift by event host Gyles Brandreth, who said he hoped they would keep the King and Queen “warm on those cold winter nights”.

Queen Camilla attends a Celebration of Shakespeare
Queen Camilla smiles as she holds gifts of Valentine’s Day jumpers (Chris Jackson/PA)

Before his performance of Cole Porter’s Brush Up Your Shakespeare, Lindsay said Valentine’s Day was the “perfect day to celebrate the King’s love of Shakespeare, and indeed to celebrate the love between the King and the Queen”.

Other attendees at the celebrity-filled event included Charles Dance, Stephen Fry and Sir David Suchet.

It is understood the reception was due to be a joint event for the King and his wife, but since his cancer diagnosis Charles has postponed all public-facing duties, however he is continuing with behind-the-scenes work on his red boxes of state papers.

Many of the guests signed a card and left messages of well-wishes to Charles.

Queen Camilla attends a Celebration of Shakespeare
Dame Judi Dench performs on stage at a Celebration of Shakespeare event (Chris Jackson/PA)

The event formed part of ongoing celebrations marking the passing of 400 years since Shakespeare’s first folio and featured themed “To beet, or not to beet” beetroot canapes.

Camilla, who wore a green velvet dress, met actors, authors, directors, and representatives of the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company at the celebration, joining guests for a group photograph.

The King and Queen hosted a reception at Windsor Castle in July 2023 to celebrate the work of Shakespeare in the 400th year of the first folio.

Shakespeare’s first folio, published in 1623, contains 36 of his plays.

Buckingham Palace said: “As an avid reader, The Queen has a strong interest in highlighting the importance of literacy and has long been recognised as a supporter of literacy in the UK and internationally.

Gary Oldman performs on stage
Gary Oldman performs on stage (Chris Jackson/PA)

“As a grandmother, Her Majesty understands the joy of reading, but also, how literacy can create life opportunities.”

As Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla became patron of several organisations that promote and support literacy – including the National Literacy Trust, First Story, Coram Beanstalk, and Booktrust.

The Queen’s Reading Room charity, initially launched as an online book club in January 2021, works to celebrate and promote the power and benefits of reading.

Dame Judi said it was “lovely” to attend the event and gave a performance of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, describing the Bard as “the person in our family who is called the man who pays the rent”.

Oldman then performed a skit by Ronnie Barker about an actor who jumbles up the lines to Hamlet.

Before giving his performance, the Academy Award winner joked: “Gyles said it’s just going to be a few people. He also didn’t tell me I’d have to follow Dame Judi Dench.”

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