IT’S HAD already won plenty of plaudits but Hull’s tenure as City of Culture now has the Royal seal of approval.
At the end of a visit to the city with the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales said it “has really had an effect” and was “raising aspirations.”
Prince Charles seemed to thoroughly enjoy rehearsals for a major new play, The Hypocrite, meeting one of the stars of the fictional epic of royal intrigue, Game Of Thrones.
The co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company, Hull Truck Theatre and Hull City of Culture 2017, stars Mark Addy, playing Sir John Hotham – who famously shut the gates of the city on Charles 1, sparking off the English Civil War.
The Prince, the President of the RSC, laughed throughout the 10-minute scene, which contained sword-fighting and plenty of bawdy jokes, including gags like “Did you know he had a priest’s hole? ... No, our only intimacy was a handshake.”
Mr Addy, who also starred in the Full Monty, joked that he was finding rehearsals “exhausting”, adding: “I’m losing weight by the day. It’s tough playing men who bar the King of England from the city.”
Charles said he “must come” to see the production, which transfers to the RSC’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, at the end of March.
Speaking to Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek star Caroline Quentin, who is playing Hotham’s wife, the Prince said: “This City of Culture business has really had an effect.”
She replied: “People are thrilled. It’s great.”
The Prince continued: “(It’s) raising aspirations.”
When Charles and Camilla arrived in Hull earlier, they embarked on an impromptu walkabout outside the newly refurbished Ferens Art Gallery.
Many in the crowd said they had waited for three hours in the sleety rain for the royal couple to arrive.
Three-year-old Penelope Conlaund, from Hull, was helped over the barrier with her grandmother, Julie Lloyd, so she could “meet a princess”.
And the toddler got her wish when Camilla stopped for a chat and to accept her bunch of flowers.
The royal couple were given a tour of the gallery, which has had more than 50,000 visitors since it reopened last month.
The Duchess asked if she could buy one of the pieces in the Open Exhibition, but it had already sold.
Hull Council said later the Duchess had decided to buy another artwork – Halved Avocado, by Ilkley artist Helen Brayshaw – and they were “thrilled” that she was supporting artists.
The royal couple joked with each other as they sat to sign the visitors’ book, with the Prince having to ask the date, saying he could never remember it.
One of the hits of the year could prove to be an exhibition of nude photographs taken in Hull last year by Spencer Tunick which opens in April.
The Turner Prize will also be presented at the gallery at the end of the year.
Charles left to continue his visit to Hull at Holy Trinity Church while Camilla moved on to Emmaus Hull and East Riding.
The Duchess finished her visit at The Deep where she celebrated the charity First Story’s partnership with Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and the launch of its writing residencies in five Hull secondary schools.