Plays, Poems & New Writing Photo story

Shakespeare’s Kings & Queens

  From Medieval to Stuart England, we take a look at the monarchs who have graced our stages in the Globe Theatre and Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Five actors wearing medieval dress stand clustered together in a group. The actor to the centre wears a golden crown and red tabbard, embroidered with three golden lions.
Jo Stone-Fewings as King John in our 2015 touring production, which celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and played in churches across the country. Photographer: Bronwen Sharp

Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II was powerfully portrayed in a new production exploring the King’s sexuality in 2018, with Tom Stuart in the titular role. Photographer: Marc Brenner

An actor in a white suit sits on a throne wearing a gold crown

We staged Richard II for the first time indoors in 2019, with an all women of colour company led by Adjoa Andoh. Photographer: Ingrid Pollard

An actor wearing a vivid red cloak, embroidered with golden lions, sits down, distraught, holding a crown out in their outstretched hand, as another actor looks on concerned behind them.

Sarah Amankwah and Philip Arditti featured as part of the Globe Ensemble as father and son in our 2019 Henry IV Part 2. Photographer: Tristram Kenton

A man wearing a tunic with the English and French emblems, and armour with a helmet adorned by a golden crown.

Our opening performance of Henry V in the Globe Theatre 25 years ago featured our former Artistic Director Mark Rylance in the title role.

A group of actors stand on the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse stage, wearing red tshirts and waving banners under candlelight.

Shakespeare’s epic cycle of history plays, Henry VI and Richard III, were tackled by our Globe Ensemble taking on over 60 characters in our Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, including Margaret of Anjou… Photographer: Marc Brenner

…and the three sons of York, George Clarence, Edward IV and Richard of Gloucester. Photographer: Marc Brenner

Actor sitting powerfully in a thrown

In 2003 Kathryn Hunter took on the villainous Richard III in an all-female production. Photographer: Donald Cooper

In 2010 we staged Henry VIII for the first time, with Anthony Howell as the King… Photographer: Manuel Harlan

A man in purple

…this year, Adam Gillen takes to the role in a reimagined version of Shakespeare & Fletcher’s History play. Photographer: Marc Brenner

A woman in white surrounded by women in veils

Our stages have also seen many of Henry’s wives, with Bea Segura as Queen Katharine (plus ghosts of his other five wives…). Photographer: Marc Brenner

…and Miranda Raison as Anne Boleyn, in a new play by Howard Brenton. Photographer: Manual Harlan

Jane Lapotaire rides a white horse in the Yard of the Globe Theatre. She wears a sumptuous embroidered Elizabeth gown, with gold, red and blue floral detailing, and a red cloak. Attendants wait on her.

Elizabeth I has made an appearance frequently in our theatres, both at our opening in 1997, where Jane Lapotaire rode into the Yard on horseback…

…in 2019 in our candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in a new play Swive [Elizabeth]… Photographer: Johan Persson

An actor wears a golden Elizabethan gown, with ruff detail and white beaded necklaces, looking over their right shoulder. In their hands they hold a ball and sceptre.

…and this year, Elizabeth speaks the Epilogue in our current production of Henry VIII. Photographer: Marc Brenner

Two actors wearing traditional Jacobean doublet, shirts and breeches, face each other. One holds a book, and is reading, the other rests their hand on the actor's shoulder.

Head of Shakespeare’s acting company, the King’s Men, James I of England and IV of Scotland made an appearance in Brenton’s aforementioned Anne Boleyn in 2010. Photographer: Manuel Harlan

Charles II (plus his loveable spaniels) graced us with his presence in Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale. Photographer: Tristram Kenton

Her Majesty the Queen watches a performance in the Gentleman's Box of the Globe Theatre.

…and finally, Her Majesty The Queen attended the opening of Shakespeare’s Globe, 12 June 1997.  Photographer Richard Kalina