Theatreland’s “formidable double act” awarded Freedom of the City of London

Theatre entrepreneurs Dame Rosemary Squire and Sir Howard Panter have received the Freedom of the City of London today, in recognition of their outstanding contribution to theatre and the cultural life of London.

Dame Rosemary and Sir Howard, who were nominated by Lord Mayor Professor Michael Mainelli, and City Corporation elected Member, Sir William Russell, attended their ceremony at Guildhall, watched by family members, friends, and colleagues.

Rosemary and Howard have directly produced over 300 theatre productions, including Anything Goes, Kiss Me, Kate, The Merchant of Venice 1936, The Rocky Horror Show, Jersey Boys, A Strange Loop, and The King and I, sold more than 160 million tickets, and employed more than 30,000 people in the UK’s creative industries.

The couple built from scratch and ran for its first 25 years the world’s largest and most successful live theatre business - Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG), following their acquisition of the Duke of York’s Theatre in 1991. They now run the global live entertainment business, Trafalgar Entertainment, based on The Strand.

Throughout their careers, they have acquired operated, or built, some 70 commercial theatres in London, the UK regions, and internationally. In London, Rosemary and Howard have owned some of the city’s most iconic theatres, including the Lyceum, Savoy, Apollo Victoria, Harold Pinter, and Piccadilly.

Lord Mayor of the City of London, Professor Michael Mainelli, said:

“Howard and Rosemary are a much respected and formidable double act in the world of entertainment, having produced hundreds of wildly popular shows and owned several wonderful theatres.

“It is entirely appropriate that their outstanding achievements and contribution to theatre and London’s cultural life are recognised by their Freedom awards today.”

Sir William Russell said:

“As a musical theatre lover and avid consumer of arts and culture, it is a pleasure to support the Freedom nomination for Howard and Rosemary who, today, found themselves in the spotlight and in front of an audience for their ceremony at Guildhall.

“In receiving this award, they follow in the footsteps of many hugely respected figures in arts and culture whose work enriches our lives.”

Dame Rosemary Squire and Sir Howard Panter said:

“We are truly honoured to receive the Freedom of the City of London and thank Lord Mayor Michael Mainelli and Sir William Russell, on behalf of the City of London Corporation, for nominating us. London has always played a hugely significant part in our personal and professional lives, and we adore this city, its rich culture, the people, the vibrant way of life, and of course, its world-beating theatre.

“From very early into our careers, we knew London held a very special place in our hearts. It was from here that we built from the ground up, two global theatre and live entertainment businesses, and we’ve spent our entire careers producing musicals and plays in the West End. London will always have our hearts.”

One of the City of London’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade.

As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.

Recent high-profile recipients include former England and Arsenal footballer, Ian Wright; LGBTQ+ activist and London Night Czar, Amy Lamé; and the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty.


Notes for Editors

[Photo credit: Dave Benett]

For media enquiries, please contact:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer (Arts, Culture, Heritage, Licensing), City of London Corporation / 07795 333060 /

About the City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK. 

About Trafalgar Entertainment

Trafalgar Entertainment is home to Trafalgar Theatres (including Trafalgar Theatre and Olympia Theatre in London, Theatre Royal Sydney, and 13 UK regional venues), The Chiswick Cinema, Trafalgar Theatre Productions, Trafalgar Releasing (distributors of specialised content to over 13,000 cinemas, television and other broadcast platforms in more than 132 countries worldwide, with content ranging from Taylor Swift to Royal Opera House), Trafalgar Tickets, Stagecoach Performing Arts (the UK market leader in extra-curricular Performing Arts tuition with over 2,000 schools and classes and 62,000 students weekly in the UK and worldwide), Drama Kids (the children’s extra-curricular drama specialists providing education in 36 countries, with over 100,000 students), London Theatre Direct (one of the UK’s leading ticket retailers and distributors), Stagedoor (London’s leading theatre app), Jonathan Church Theatre Productions and Imagine Theatre (producing some 22 pantomimes and other family entertainment last year).