A play telling the imagined future history of King Charles III is coming to Welwyn Garden City's Barn Theatre.

King Charles III was written by Mike Bartlett in 2014, almost 10 years before the events it depicts, and presents a fictional account of the King's accession and reign.

The play also explores issues such as the freedom of the press and the aftermath of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

After Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, Charles, now king, holds his first audience with the Prime Minister.

They discuss a press regulation bill, already passed by the Commons and the Lords, awaiting Charles's assent.

Charles worries it curbs press freedom excessively, enabling government censorship and hindering exposure of government abuse, and seeks amendments - but the Prime Minister declines.

The Opposition leader, part of Charles's new weekly meetings, joins in and questions the bill, but sees no choice but for Charles to sign.

While this is going on, Prince Harry dates Jess Edwards, a Republican, while both he and Prince William see Princess Diana's ghost, promising kingship.

Chaos ensues as Charles denies assent to the press bill - leading to the dissolution of Parliament.

Directed by Cliff Francis, King Charles III is the season opener for the Barn's main stage.


Cliff said: "Although the play features members of the Royal family, who of course all too real, my thoughts were always to have this performed purely, as was it is, a piece of fiction.

"I haven’t looked for lookalikes and we're not attempting impersonations. Though some of the cast have a passing similarity, that’s not by design.

"Essentially, it’s set in an alternate universe and is just a very good play. Posing valid 21st century questions about the role of a monarch, parliament and especially the price of a free press."

Ian Major takes on the titular role of King Charles, while Barbara Holgate-Stuckey plays Camilla.

King Charles III opens at the Barn Theatre on Friday, October 13, and runs until Saturday, October 21.

Tickets are available from the box office at www.barntheatre.co.uk.