The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall will be given a royal command performance of Chester’s highly acclaimed mystery plays on their visit to the city on Friday, September 12.
The royal couple were invited to attend the historic cycle of plays in 2013, the first time they were performed in the nave of Chester Cathedral in their 800-year history, but were unable to attend.
Ahead of their visit, which includes a busy schedule including four locations, the couple expressed a wish to meet the organisers of the plays and, if possible, watch an excerpt from the performance.
Chairman of the Chester Mystery Plays board Jo Sykes said: “Prior to the announcement of the royal visit, I was contacted by the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs who indicated that the Prince of Wales had especially requested to see part of the mystery plays because they were unable to make it last year.
“We are delighted that they remembered us on their first visit to the city since then.
“We felt we had to do everything we could to put something together for them and we are very much looking forward to meeting them.”
A company of 17 actors from the original cast of the 2013 production, written by Stephanie Dale and directed by Peter Leslie Wild, will present the moving Crucifixion scene with music by Matt Baker. Chronicle editor Michael Green described Baker’s music at the time as ‘bordering on the miraculous’.
The performance will take place in the Chapter House of Chester Cathedral where there will also be an exhibition of the history of the mystery plays, first performed in the city streets in the 14th century by the town’s guilds.
During their visit to the cathedral the royal couple will unveil a plaque to officially open the city’s new visitor attraction, Cathedral at Height.
The project, made possible by a grant from Cheshire West and Chester Council, took years to plan and seven months on site to complete and allows visitors to go behind the scenes at Chester Cathedral via a tour route never before accessed by the public.
Prince Charles and Camilla will meet the team responsible for the development of the new attraction including representatives from restoration specialists William Anelay Ltd, project managers Turner and Townsend and chartered architects Donald Insall Associates.
The Earl and Countess of Chester will be given a tour of the cathedral’s other highlights, including the building’s 14th century Quire, 16th century Consistory Court and 11th century Norman columns. They will also enjoy a performance by Chester Cathedral Choir.
Vice dean Canon Peter Howell-Jones, said: “We are honoured to welcome The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to Chester Cathedral and are delighted that they are able to officially open our new visitor attraction. We are very much looking forward to talking to them about the Cathedral at Height project and our future plans for the building and the wider estate.”
Prince Charles and Camilla will kick off their visit on Friday at the ground-breaking integrated early support centre in Lache before moving on to the cathedral.
They will then split up so the Prince of Wales can travel to Airbus in Broughton while the Duchess heads for the Countess of Chester Hospital where she will open the Haygarth Building and the new country park.
Details of exact times of each aspect of the visit have not been released publicly by Clarence House.