What the Real-Life Royals Really Think of Broadway's King Charles III
The actors who play Princes William and Harry dish on feedback they've gotten from Clarence House
The stars of Broadway’s King Charles III knew going into their original London run that they had huge shoes (or jewels, in one case) to fill, so it seems only natural the actors who portray Prince William, Prince Harry and Princess Kate might be curious how their real-world counterparts would respond to the admittedly controversial and provocative drama.
“We’ve had no comeback,” says Richard Goulding, who originated a more-Vegas-than-valiant Harry in Mike Bartlett’s “future play,” which imagines a time right after the death of Queen Elizabeth II when the ascent of Prince Charles to the throne causes backbiting, scheming and power plays worthy of Shakespeare and modern tabloids.
Though the play did cause a flap in London when an image of Charles on subway advertisements had to be pixelated to obscure the future king’s likeness, Clarence House has otherwise been mostly silent on the show.
“I think some of Harry’s mates came in once and had a good laugh,” says Goulding, 36.
“As far as we know, none of the royal family’s seen the show, and I can’t imagine that they ever will,” he notes.” I wouldn’t go if I were them – not because it’s anti-them but just because it would be so weird to see someone else pretending to be you for two hours.”
But, he continues, “There was a rumor that at the original show at the Almeida [Theatre] that there was a letter from Clarence House saying they’d seen the show and that Charles doesn’t wear a wedding ring – he wears a signet ring – and that we should get that right on stage.”
Says Goulding, “I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that was the rumor. They were saying, ‘It’s fine, we’re watching you, but get it right.’ ”
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For Oliver Chris – much like his steadfast, dutiful inspiration William – getting it right is also a top priority.
Not least of which because his role as a charter member of the show has effected a surprising change of heart for Chris, 36: “I was never a royalist particularly,” he admits. “But now I’ve obviously looked into [the family] a lot more, and I am quite a royalist now.”
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No surprise, Chris says he’s “a particular fan of Prince William. I think that he’s quite an extraordinary person. What William has achieved and how he carries himself and what he embodies, I can’t imagine anyone else in the world I would rather have as my future king. I think he’s a truly incredible human being, and I’m very proud.”
And while the actor admits, “I don’t know if the royals would like this play,” he says, “I would hope that, if William saw my performance, that he would see that it was given from a place of great respect and admiration.”
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King Charles III, which opens at New York City’s Music Box Theatre on Sunday, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now