PRINCE Charles' favourite actor Antony Sher has died at the age of 72.
The legendary stage actor, best known for his work performing Shakespeare, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in September.
The Royal Shakespeare Company announced the double Olivier Award-winning actor's death in a statement on Friday.
Acting artistic director Catherine Mallyon said: “We are deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Greg, and with Antony’s family and their friends at this devastating time.
“Antony was deeply loved and hugely admired by so many colleagues. He was a ground-breaking role model for many young actors, and it is impossible to comprehend that he is no longer with us.
"We will ensure friends far and wide have the chance to share tributes and memories in the days to come.”
Born in Cape Town, Sher joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982 and appeared in productions including The Tempest, Macbeth and Othello.
His last show with the company was John Kani’s Kunene and The King in 2019, while he also recently starred in King Lear, the Henry IV plays and Death of a Salesman.
On the big screen, the star appeared in the Oscar-winning film Shakespeare in Love and film adaptations of Macbeth and The Winter’s Tale.
He was also known for his writing, penning four novels, an autobiography, three plays, a TV screenplay and theatre journals.
During his 2017 Commonwealth Tour, Prince Charles referred to Sher as his favourite actor.
Tributes have poured in from fellow actors and artists following the news of the legendary stage performer's death.
Harriet Walter, an honorary associate artist at the Royal Shakespeare Company, said: "On stage he was a powerhouse, bold and uncompromising. Offstage he was surprisingly unassuming, private and unostentatious. He could also be wickedly funny.
"I so enjoyed working with him and watching him work and feel so sad that I won’t have that pleasure again."
Actor and playwright John Kani said: "We travelled together as compatriots, comrades in the struggle for a better South Africa, as fellow artists and we both had the honour of celebrating together 25 years of South Africa’s Democracy in my latest play Kunene and the King.
"I am at peace with you my friend and myself. Exit my King. Your Brother."
Actor Mark Rylance said: "I first saw Tony's work as an actor in the theatre with Mike Leigh and was captivated by his immersion and definition as an actor.
"In 1982 we both joined the RSC and became friends. I remember his infectious laugh and sense of humour most.
"His meticulous artwork and visual imagination. He was always most generous and kind to me. A gentleman and devoted man of the theatre. A great loss."
Janet Suzman, an honorary associate artist at thecompany, described Sher as a "ferocious talent".
"His South African heritage – we share this burden – was only discovered by him quite late in his life, but it surely added to the rich mixture that made him such a magnetic actor," she said.
Sher's husband Gregory Doran, the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, had taken a leave of absence to care for him.
Sher and Doran became one of the first gay couples to enter into a civil partnership in the UK in 2005 and married in 2015.
Susie Sainsbury, former deputy chairwoman of the company, said: "Tony and Greg were together for over 30 years, and their careers as actor and director have brought them international acclaim, both individually and in the many productions where they worked together so productively.
"Tony will be remembered for many exceptional roles on stage and screen, but also for his passion for painting and drawing, which occupied his days increasingly in recent years.
"Their many friends and colleagues will each have particular memories – mine is an image of the two of them, bearded and smiling, on the window seat in their sitting room, utterly content in each other’s company.
"It is impossible to imagine one without the other, and our thoughts and deep sympathy are with Greg and their families."
Sher's publisher Nick Hern described the actor as a "bit of a wonder".
He said: "A magnetic actor, of course, but also and equally an artist and author.
"I should know: I published five books by him, and in every case the vivid words were illuminated by equally vivid sketches.
"Furthermore, he’s a delight to work with: punctilious, of course, but open to and eager for comment and improvement. If only every author were as receptive."
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