World news story

Α Shakespearian evening to mark HM The Queen’s 90th birthday

With Jeremy Irons as guest of honour, the evening was Shakespeare-themed giving guests a flavour of his 400-year old legacy.


To mark the 90th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II, Ambassador John Kittmer hosted a Shakespeare-themed event with British actor Jeremy Irons as guest of honour. More than 2,000 guests watched Jeremy Irons reading Sonnet 18 and the prologue to Henry V.

In his address the Ambassador said:

Our Queen has staying power. Throughout the lives of most Britons, She has been our stable point of reference. As a Queen of the modern age, She has torn down the veil between monarch and people and touched many, many lives: not only in my country, but also in Her other realms, in the Commonwealth and globally.

We are proud of her and proud of her service to my country. It is only fitting that this year we should have a huge celebration in Her honour.

The Ambassador led guests in toasts to HE The President of the Republic and to HM The Queen. Jeremy Irons honoured the event by cutting the birthday case, prepared especially for the occasion by Stelios Parliaros.

The theme of the evening was William Shakespeare, the “Bard of Avon” and his 400-year old legacy. Guests had the opportunity to get a flavour of him through displays and activities such as:

  • Costumes from famous Shakespearean productions by the Greek National Theatre. The costumes on display come from the museum section of the Costume Department of the National Theatre and cover the period 1940-1990. The collection unfolded the story of the aesthetic course of Shakespearean costumes at the National Theatre through the work of three costume designers who sealed the history of costume design in Greek theatre: Antonis Fokas, Ioanna Papantoniou and Vassilis Fotopoulos.

  • A virtual tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – a chance to experience Shakespeare’s Globe as never before with an app packed with interesting facts and figures, videos and photos.

  • British Council’s interactive display of its international work to publicise Shakespeare with information about the diverse and engaging Shakespeare Lives programme in Greece exploring Shakespeare’s global legacy and demonstrating how his stories, themes and language are still relevant today.

  • A unique short version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Greek tradition of the Karagiozi shadow theatre by the Athanassiou group.

  • Early music by the Renaissance Quartet and Dimitris Vassilakis jazz band.

Many of our guests also enthusiastically participated in Play your Part and Share Your Shakespeare, helping British Embassy create a short video by joining a whole host of celebrities in a global campaign, in support of VSO International. They shared their favourite Shakespearean play, their favourite character or quote.

Published 17 June 2016