Prince Charles III
King Charles III is a 2014 play in blank verse by Mike Bartlett. It premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London, in April 2014 and centres on the accession and reign of King Charles III, the possible regnal name of the real Charles, Prince of Wales, and limiting the freedom of the press after the News International phone hacking scandal.
Its premiere production was at the Almeida Theatre from 10 April to 31 May 2014, with previews from 3 April, directed by Rupert Goold. Charles was played byTim Pigott-Smith, whilst the cast also includes Margot Leicester as Camilla, Oliver Chris as Prince William, Lydia Wilson as Catherine, Richard Goulding asPrince Harry,Adam James as prime minister and Nicholas Rowe as leader of the opposition. A typical performance ran for two hours and 45 minutes, including one interval.
The production transferred to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre in September 2014 for an initial three-month run, later announcing an extension to the end of January 2015. When Pigott-Smith sustained a broken collar bone, he was replaced for five weeks by Miles Richardson.
Following its West End run, the play began a UK tour at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre with Robert Powell in the role of Charles, ending with a month run by the Sydney Theatre Company (at the Roslyn Packer Theatre) making its Australian premiere in March 2016.
The play transferred to Broadway for a limited engagement with the original London cast, running at the Music Box Theatre from 1 November 2015 until 31 January 2016, following previews from 10 October 2015.
|Role||Almeida Theatre||West End||Broadway||UK Tour||Sydney|
|Charles||Tim Pigott-Smith||Robert Powell|
|William||Oliver Chris||Ben Righton|
|Harry||Richard Goulding||Richard Glaves|
|Kate||Lydia Wilson||Jennifer Bryden|
|Camilla||Margot Leicester||Penelope Beaumont||Carolyn Pickles|
|Jess Edwards||Tafline Steen||Lucy Phelps|
|James Reiss||Nick Sampson||Miles Richardson||Dominic Jephcott|
|Prime Minister Tristram Evans||Adam James||Tim Treloar|
|Mark Stevens, Leader of the Opposition||Nicholas Rowe||Anthony Calf||Giles Taylor|
|Sarah / Ghost / TV Producer||Katie Brayben||Sally Scott||Beatrice Walker|
|Coottsey / Speaker of the House of Commons / Sir Michael||Tom Robertson||Paul Westwood|
|Spencer / Nick / Sir Gordon||Nyasha Hatendi||Parth Thakerar||Geoffrey Lumb|
|Protesters / Attendants / Understudies||Unknown||Lucas Hall,Rachel Spencer Hewitt, Peter Bradbury,
Gordana Rashovich, Harry Smith
|Emily Swain,Emily-Celine Thompson,
Charles and his family gather following the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. He then holds his first weekly audience with the Prime Minister, principally discussing a new bill for statutory regulation of the press. This has passed the House of Commons and the House of Lords and is only awaiting Charles’ royal assent to become law. Charles, however, expresses doubts that the law restricts the freedom of the press too much and would allow governments to censor the news and prevent legitimate uncovering of any abuse of power by the government. He asks the prime minister for alterations to the bill but he refuses and the two men part, as the Leader of the Opposition arrives for a weekly meeting with Charles, an innovation the new king has introduced. The Leader of the Opposition expresses his own doubts on the Bill but states he sees little alternative but for Charles to sign.
In parallel, Prince Harry has begun a relationship with a republican named Jess and both Charles and Prince William have seen the ghost of Princess Diana, promising each man that he will become “the greatest king of all”. The following day Charles’ butler arrives at 10 Downing Street, hand-delivering the Bill with ‘Assent Reserved’ written in place of Charles’ signature. The Prime Minister holds a crisis meeting with the Leader of the Opposition and then goes alone to try to convince Charles to sign, but he continues to refuse. The Prime Minister then threatens to pass a new law bypassing the royal assent and then pass the press law, but Charles then dissolves parliament before he can bring either of these plans into effect.
Protests begin across the country and especially in London. Charles increases the army guard at Buckingham Palace, offers his protection to Jess (whom the media have made the centre of a sex scandal) and agrees to Harry’s wish to become a commoner. The Duchess of Cambridge plans a solution, which turns out to be William publicly offering himself as a mediator between parliament and his father. He announces this at a press conference without his father’s knowledge and consent. Seeing this as a betrayal, Charles reacts angrily but ultimately finds himself forced to abdicate in favour of William, who will sign the press bill and restore the status quo between king and parliament. The play concludes with Harry’s rejection of Jess, and William and Kate’s coronation as king and queen.
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