Our President King Charles III and the School
Tomorrow, Saturday 6 May 2023, King Charles III will be crowned and festivities will commence across the country in his honour. We are excited to join the nation in celebrating our President. This week, we’ve been reflecting on King Charles’ history with The Royal Ballet School and his close association with the arts.
A lifelong love of the arts
King Charles has always had a keen interest in the arts. He was greatly influenced by his grandmother’s love for classical music and recalls her taking him, aged seven, to Covent Garden to watch the Bolshoi Ballet. Throughout his life, he has regularly attended various live performances and events and continues to support the arts through his charities.
King Charles has long been committed to providing young people with transformative opportunities. Through Children & the Arts, a national charity founded by King Charles in 2006, more than half a million children have been provided with a range of creative and artistic experiences, that otherwise may not have had access to the arts.
Supporting our students
King Charles also directly supports students at The Royal Ballet School through the Prince of Wales Bursary Fund. The fund was established on the occasion of the then Prince of Wales’ 70th birthday. Generous philanthropists made donations to the fund which today continues to provide bursary support to students of the School. Speaking about the Fund, King Charles wrote:
It is enormously encouraging to hear that the help provided from the Prince of Wales Bursary is so much appreciated and I do hope it will continue to benefit many students in years to come.
Becoming our President
Since 2003, King Charles has been President of the School. He visited the School for the first time as our President in 2004, arriving in a helicopter, which created a buzz of excitement among the students. Considering plans for refurbishment and building works, he noted that the Stock Bussell Studio building would have to complement the tennis court beside it. This tennis court was installed when King Charles’ grandfather lived at White Lodge so that he could practice for Wimbledon, where he competed in the Men’s Doubles of 1926. The Palladian-style Corinthian columns and dentelles that now decorate the walkway were built because of this.
Meeting students and staff
At the White Lodge opening gala in 2009, King Charles opened the event with a speech about the importance of nurturing young people’s potential. A gala supper was held in the Stock Bussell Studio, which was dressed with flowers, and dancers from the School’s Access Programme took part in a performance between the tables.
King Charles also visited the School in 2016 to watch classes and express his pride as our President. He was introduced to all staff members and met many of the students. On this occasion, he was presented with a pair of decorated pointe shoes as a gift for Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday. White Lodge and Upper School students gave a performance and King Charles gave a wonderful speech on the joys of watching our young dancers.
Our students performed at Buckingham Palace for King Charles in 2012. He greeted staff and students who attended and met with recent graduates at the time including Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Marcelino Sambe and Matthew Ball.
A birthday celebration
In honour of King Charles’ 70th birthday, the world premiere of The Cunning Little Vixen took place at the Royal Opera House. It was created to celebrate King Charles as President of both the School and The Royal Ballet Company and to show the close connection between the two. The performance featured students from both White Lodge and Upper School. King Charles attended opening night and met with members of the cast afterwards.
We all wish King Charles III the very best on his Coronation Day.
Hear more from our Manager of Special Collections, Anna Meadmore: