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Dateline: 19th April, 2009

Royce Ryton (1924 - 2009)

Playwright Royce Ryton has died as the age of 84.

He is best known for the play Crown Matrimonial (1972) about the abdication of King Edward VIII, the first play to present a living member of the Royal Family (Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI) on stage. The play, which starred Wendy Hillier (Queen Mary) and Peter Barkworth (Edward), had a long run at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, before transferring to Broadway.

He wrote eighteen other plays but none of them ever came anywhere nearto the success of Crown Matrimonial, although his early comedies were popular in Germany.

He began as an actor and trained a Webber Douglas. He worked in regional rep but did appear in the West End in his own comedy, The Unvarnished Truth (Phoenix) with Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor in 1978. He also appeared in his gay drama The Other Side of the Swamp at the King's Head in 1976.

Crown Matrimonial was revived last year in a seven venue tour starring Patricia Routledge but a West End transfer did not materialise.

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©Peter Lathan 2009