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National Theatre Blog

The Duchess of Sussex announced as our new Royal Patron

The Duchess of Sussex

Above: HRH The Duchess of Sussex (Reuters/Phil Noble)

The National Theatre is honoured to announce that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex has become its Royal Patron. The patronage reflects Her Royal Highness’s belief in using the arts to bring people from different backgrounds and communities together.

Her Majesty The Queen has passed on the Royal Patronage to The Duchess of Sussex having held the role for the last 45 years and has been associated with the organisation since its earliest days at the Old Vic in the 1960s. The Duchess has spent decades championing the arts and feels that she can use her position to focus attention on and make a particular difference to the sector.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said: “I would like to thank The Queen for Her Majesty’s long and unwavering support and service to the National Theatre. We were honoured when The Queen became our Patron in 1974 and have celebrated many moments together including, in recent years, the Diamond Jubilee and the marking of our 50th anniversary. It is a privilege to welcome The Duchess of Sussex as our new Patron. The National Theatre’s mission is to make world class theatre that is entertaining, challenging and inspiring for everyone and to be as inclusive, diverse and national as possible. The Duchess shares our deeply-held conviction that theatre has the power to bring together people from all communities and walks of life. I very much look forward to working closely with Her Royal Highness in the years to come”.

The Queen and the National Theatre

Above: The Queen meets Joey, the puppet horse from War Horse at the National Theatre's 50th birthday celebrations in 2013. Photo by Ellie Kurttz.

The Queen became our Patron in 1974.

In 1976, she attended the Royal Gala opening of our South Bank home where she said that the National Theatre would create ‘that special brand of magic that only theatre can provide… to be enjoyed by people from all walks of life and of every age’. This belief in a theatre for everyone continues to be held by the National Theatre today.

Our relationship with The Queen goes back to the Festival of Britain in 1951, when she attended the laying of the National Theatre’s foundation stone with her mother. This foundation stone is still on display in our foyer, alongside the stone commemorating the granting of our Royal Charter in 1988.

The Queen and Prince Philip have attended a number of National Theatre productions over the years and have a particular affection for War Horse. Joey the puppet horse has performed for The Queen a number of times, notably at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012 and on her 90th birthday in 2017.

The Queen last visited the National Theatre during our 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen opened the Max Rayne Centre and toured the new workshop spaces created by the NT Future project. They watched a rehearsal of the family show Emil and the Detectives and, along with the entire NT staff, saw a performance of ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat’ from the legendary production of Guys and Dolls. As Joey escorted the royal party out of the building she told the puppet horse: ‘It’s lovely to see you again.’