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Meet the ‘Merry Monarch’ this August Bank Holiday

Tuesday, 23rd July 2019

Charles II (1630–1685)

This August Bank Holiday (24 – 26 August) the Royal Armouries in Leeds is welcoming His Majesty King Charles II to the museum for a packed weekend of entertainment, including special horse shows featuring drills, dressage and racing for the King’s pleasure.

Known as the ‘Merry Monarch’, King Charles brought about the restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 following the death of Oliver Cromwell and the end of the Commonwealth (1649 – 60). Charles reigned for almost 25 years and was renowned for his lavish lifestyle, enjoying grand parties, mistresses, and sport, particularly horse racing, now nicknamed ‘the sport of kings’ as a result of his interest.

The event will see King Charles early in his reign in 1667. Plague, fire and war have beset his kingdom, and now the not-so-Merry Monarch is reviewing his Armoury. Can William Legge, the Master of the Armoury, convince the King that all will be if war comes? Will visitors be able to cheer up the ruler of the Restoration?

Charles and his famous mistress Nell Gwyn will be in residence throughout the weekend and visitors are invited to an audience with the king them in the museum’s temporary throne room.

Throughout the weekend there will be pike and musket demonstrations, sword duelling, tours of the weapons and armour of the period, talks and dramatic performances. For younger visitors there will also be royal craft activities and early years storytelling.

At midday and 3 pm each day visitors can join King Charles for a thrilling showcase of ‘the sport of kings’. The museums outdoor arena will play host to special horse shows with a thrilling thirty minutes of sport, spectacle and speed as Charles’ flamboyant Life Guard drill, dress and race for the King’s pleasure. Who will visitors put their bets on, will they set their cap at a stately trooper, or simply sit spellbound by the display of Spanish dressage? And will his Majesty be pleased?

The museum’s outdoor square will also be transformed with a maze fit for a monarch where visitors can get lost in history. Whilst the Royal Armouries newly re-furbished restaurant, The Master’s, will be serving a range of delicious meals, snacks and hot drinks with views onto Leeds Dock.

The Royal Armouries collections include a number of remarkable objects from the 17th century and Stuart period, including the Littlecote Collection, the single largest collection of British Civil Wars arms and armour in the country.

Commenting on the event Mark Jackson, Events and Informal Learning Manager said: “We are really excited to be bringing the next instalment of our Monarchs season of events to the museum this August Bank Holiday. The ‘Merry Monarch’ will certainly be bringing a lot of fun, with action-packed horse shows that are quite different to our usual outdoor shows, showcasing a range of riding skills including dressage and horse racing. The event will be great entertainment for all of the family.”

The event is free to attend, however the horse shows are ticketed. For further information on the August Bank Holiday events visit the Royal Armouries website.

Tickets to the ‘Cavalcade for a King’ horse shows can be purchased through Eventbrite.

About the Royal Armouries

Entry to the museum is free but some activities carry a small charge.