Prince Charles shares trials of Prince Hal

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The Independent Online
A scene from Shakespeare involving a jolly knight and the heir to the throne is to be performed for the first time by a jolly knight and the heir to the throne.

Prince Charles will star as Prince Hal alongside Sir Robert Stephens as Falstaff in a scene from Henry IV Part 1 for a new audio book.

The Prince of Wales, who is president of the Royal Shakespeare Company, says he took on the project "to remind listeners and readers of the delights of Shakespeare, and inspire some of them to re-read the plays or, better still, to see them on stage".

But the tape is likely to have as much appeal to amateur psychologists as students of Shakespeare. One of Prince Charles' selections is a love poem, Sonnet 60, which laments the ravages of time but assures his love that their affection will not be deterred by it: "And yet to time in hope my verse shall stand/ Praising thy worth despite his cruel hand."

The Prince of Wales only performs in the scene in which Prince Hal taunts Falstaff after catching him in a lying boast. Prince Charles had voice coaching from Cicely Berry, the RSC's voice director.

Her advice on diction and projection will help him in such lines as: "Thou clay brained guts, thou knotty pated fool, thou whoreson, obscene, greasy tallow-catch."

The Prince of Wales has long felt an empathy with his ancestor. When Kenneth Branagh played Henry IV for the RSC a decade ago, Prince Charles talked with him at length about the character and the trials of being heir to the throne.

He joins a cast including Sir John Gielgud, Sir Robert Stephens, Dame Maggie Smith, Glenda Jackson, Richard Briers, Paul Eddington, Antony Sher, Juliet Stevenson and Alan Bates.

The selection of pieces from several plays, entitled The Prince's Choice, will be published by Hodder Headline in November.

A cassette and CD for the selection will be accompanied by a hardback book with an introduction by the Prince. A portion of the royalties will go to the Prince of Wales' Charities Trust.