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Queen Elizabeth II, who was a major patron of the arts during her life, has died aged 96

Theatres will remain open but honour the Queen's passing, it has been confirmed

Queen Elizabeth II
© NASA/Bill Ingalls, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Queen Elizabeth II, the nation's longest serving monarch, has died aged 96.

The news was revealed earlier this evening by Buckingham Palace.

The Queen was formerly the patron of the National Theatre (a role now taken on by the Duchess of Cornwall), overseeing decades of the venue's growth and productions, while also acting as patron of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Stephanie Sirr and Jon Gilchrist Joint (presidents of UK Theatre) and Eleanor Lloyd (president of Society of London Theatre) said in a joint statement: "We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The theatre industry is thankful for all the support and patronage Her Majesty has shown throughout her lifetime. We would like to convey our deepest sympathy to the Royal Family at this time of national mourning."

SOLT also confirmed: "In accordance with advice from DCMS, scheduled theatre performances will go ahead tonight as planned and during the official period of mourning.

"Many theatres across the country will be dimming their lights tonight and observing a minute's silence, playing the national anthem, and opening books of condolences prior to the performance as a mark of their respect."

Update (9 September 2022): SOLT has released an updated statement:

"Following the sad news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in accordance with official guidance, the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre have advised that theatres are expected to remain open from tonight and for the duration of the period of national mourning up until the funeral.

"Theatres across the country will be dimming their lights at 7pm for 2 minutes each evening as a mark of respect, which is theatre's traditional way to honour those that have passed.

"The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre will be issuing further updates in line with official guidance once timings and details of the funeral have been confirmed, and audiences will be kept informed.

"We would like to extend our condolences to the Royal Family at this sad time."

Catherine Mallyon (RSC executive director) and Erica Whyman (RSC acting artistic director) said: "We are deeply saddened at the news of the Queen's death, and our thoughts are with her family, and particularly our President, HRH The Prince of Wales. Her Majesty the Queen has been Patron of the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1961, when the Company was created.

"Her Majesty last visited us in Stratford-upon-Avon on 4 March 2011 to open formally the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This was a memorable day in the history of the RSC where she met and talked with members of the Company and those involved in the redevelopment and transformation of the theatre."

They added: "The Royal Shakespeare Company will organise a public screening of the funeral in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This will be a ticketed event open to everyone. Details to be confirmed in due course."

The National Theatre tweeted: "We are deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty The Queen, Royal Patron of the National Theatre for more than four decades. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Royal Family."