King may have sought to give the emotion ‘poetic form’ by quoting Shakespeare

The king may have sought to give “poetic form” to emotions that would otherwise seem “a bit anarchic” by quoting Shakespeare, one Bard professor has said.

In his speech to MPs and colleagues on Monday, Charles referenced lines from Henry VIII to describe his mother as “the model for all living princes”, and in the broadcast his first publicity as head of state on Friday, he borrowed from Hamlet.

At the end of his historic speech, he said “Flights of angels will sing you rest”, a quote also said by Horatio as he paid tribute to his dying friend. It was Hamlet in the tragedy.

Emma Smith, professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Oxford, told the PA news agency: “I think this is clearly poetry, this is clearly writing that means a lot to him.

“And I think a lot of people over the centuries have used the beautiful phrases of poets, perhaps especially Shakespeare, to talk about something beyond everyday words.

“Normally we don’t talk about these issues so our everyday language is probably a bit trivial.

“So it’s a way to sort out the distance a little bit but give a poetic shape to the emotions that would otherwise seem a bit anarchic.”

Reflecting on Charles’ use of a quote from Henry VIII, Professor Smith notes that in the play, Archbishop Cranmer speaks of then-princess Elizabeth, who would become Queen Elizabeth I.

The professor explains the play, which tells the ups and downs of Henry VIII’s reign as he tries to win an heir, was actually written towards the end of Shakespeare’s career during the Jacobean period and published after his death. Queen Elizabeth I

“In terms of the play, it was a prophecy of what she would be like as Queen. But in terms of audiences seeing the play, of course, it’s a flashback because we know she was Queen and she died probably about a decade before that,” she said.

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“So it’s often thought to be an early part of this kind of mythologization of Queen Elizabeth I as the great English queen.”

As Prince of Wales, the King is president of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has had a long relationship with the playwright’s work, including starring in the play Macbeth at the age of 17.


Charles played Macbeth in the Gordonstoun School Shakespeare play when he was 17 years old (PA)

In 1995, he also edited and published a book called The Prince’s Choice which contained a collection of Shakespeare speeches.

Professor Smith says that in this book, he “is not surprised to focus on Henry IV’s plays about Henry, the Prince of Wales” which clearly speaks to him in a number of interesting ways. taste “.

She added that she feels Shakespeare’s works are a “really important aspect” of Charles’s life and “how he understands the world”.

The professor explains that this tradition of seeking Shakespeare goes back to ancient times, saying: “Shakespeare was based on its own understanding of the monarchy but… the monarchy relied on Shakespeare to understand itself. .”

She said another notable occasion would be when Edward VIII abdicates the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, who has put Queen Elizabeth II on the line of direct succession.

“There’s hardly any kind of constitutional text to understand how you do it, it’s unthinkable that there isn’t a verbal form to it,” she said.

“And what is very interesting is that at the time, perhaps Churchill, but perhaps other members of the political establishment, turned to Richard II, Shakespeare’s play about a abdicated king, to find a eloquent form of speech to make it happen.” King may have sought to give the emotion ‘poetic form’ by quoting Shakespeare

Fry Electronics Team

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