Photo credit: Prince Philip (Photo courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe)

HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh dies at 99, the theatre industry reacts

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh has passed away today, 9 April 2021, at the age of 99. Throughout his life, Prince Philip expressed a keen interest in the arts, serving as Patron of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, as well as visiting West End theatres over the years.

In a tweet from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: "We are deeply saddened to hear that HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh has passed away. Prince Philip served as our Patron for over 40 years. His support for our founder Sam Wanamaker was integral to building the Globe Theatre and later, opening the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse." 

Prince Philip was a patron of Shakespeare's Globe for over 40 years, supporting the theatre financially. Speaking to the BBC, the Globe's chief executive Neil Constable said: "Prince Philip's support for us at that time was integral to finishing building the theatre and opening in 1997... he has always taken a huge interest in the craftsmanship of our beautiful theatres, particularly in the traditional materials and methods used. Royal patronage is an honour and connects us to our Shakespearean history."

The Old Vic have also made a statement about the Duke's passing. In a tweet, they said: "Today we are deeply saddened to learn of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts are with The Queen, our Bicentenary Patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and the Royal Family at this time."

In 1952, Prince Philip and The Queen attended a Royal Gala Performance of King Henry VIII, later returning six years later to open the National Theatre studios. While there, he was treated to a private performance of Shakespeare scenes, including Frankie Howard reciting a monologue from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Theatre helped the budding romance between Prince Philip and The Queen a few years earlier though. In 1947, they both attended a performance of Oklahoma! at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, with the song "People Will Say We're in Love" holding a special meaning to them. In an article from Time Magazine, royal biographer Christopher Warwick said: It was a song that 'sung' to them - their song if you will."

On 25 October 1976, Prince Philip and The Queen officially opened the National Theatre on the South Bank. Together, they opened the Olivier, Lyttelton and Cottesloe (now Dorfman) theatres, and have been to see West End productions ever since.

In a tweet from the National, they said: "We are deeply saddened by the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family." They commented that the Duke of Edinburgh visited the National Theatre with The Queen in 2013 to mark the National's 50th anniversary. 

In 1999, he went to see Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre. Notably, in 2009, he went to see the First World War drama War Horse at the New London Theatre - now Gillian Lynne Theatre. He's also been in audiences of Billy Elliot at Victoria Palace Theatre and One Man, Two Guvnors. 

Photo credit: Prince Philip (Photo courtesy of Shakespeare's Globe)

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