Rupert Gavin appointed Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces

Rupert Gavin appointed Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces

Rupert Gavin

21 January 2015

 Her Majesty The Queen on the advice of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport has appointed Rupert Gavin as Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity responsible for the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.  The appointment will take effect from 5 May 2015 for an initial term of three years. Mr Gavin will take over from Charles Mackay CBE who steps down as Chairman after nine years.


Rupert Gavin is a well-established figure in the world of business, media and the arts. From 2005-2014 he was CEO of Odeon and UCI Cinemas Group, building it to be the largest cinema company in Europe. Prior to this, he was CEO of BBC Worldwide for seven years, during which time he was responsible for all global commercial activities, including TV channels, co-productions, magazines, books and home entertainment, was recipient of the Queen’s Award for Exports, and a member of the BBC’s Executive Committee. Other senior business appointments have included: Managing Director, Consumer Division of British Telecom, Deputy Managing Director of Dixons Stores Group and Board Director of Virgin Mobile. For many years, Mr Gavin was a director and shareholder of The Ambassador Theatre Group, now the most substantial theatre company in the world. He has produced/co-produced over 100 theatre productions since 1981, many of them award-winning. He has also served as Governor of the National Film and Television School, and Treasurer of the Contemporary Art Society. Currently, Mr Gavin is a board director of Wyevale Garden Centres, a board director of Countrywide plc, executive chairman of his West End theatre producing company Incidental Colman, chairman of Theatre CoProductions Ltd., and fourth Warden of the Worshipful Company of Grocers.


Charles Mackay has served as Chairman since 2006 and will retire on completion of his third term (the maximum under the Royal Charter). During this time, Historic Royal Palaces has seen visitor numbers rise by 70% to over 4 million a year. At the same time, it has developed a highly successful membership scheme and significantly increased its income from fundraising, retail, functions & events and catering. Historic Royal Palaces has also transformed many of its activities, including Marketing, Learning and Engagement, Creative Programming and Digital. The organisation has played a part in several landmark events including The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, and undertaken many ambitious projects. These have included the re-presentation of the Crown Jewels and the restoration of the White Tower at the Tower of London, the transformation of Kensington Palace, the re-presentation of the Tudor and Baroque Palaces at Hampton Court, and the opening of the Georgian Kitchens at Kew. In the past year, HRP has assumed responsibility for Hillsborough Castle, The Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland, and hosted one of the most high-profile art installations ever, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red - the installation of Poppies in the moat of the Tower of London.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Rupert Gavin brings with him a wealth of experience from across the cultural and media sectors and I have no doubt he will be a fantastic Chairman and wonderful ambassador for Historic Royal Palaces. I'd like to thank Charles Mackay for his commitment and leadership which has contributed greatly to the organisation’s success in recent years and I believe this success will only continue under Rupert Gavin's Chairmanship."


Rupert Gavin comments: “I am delighted to be appointed to chair such a unique, vibrant and flourishing organisation as Historic Royal Palaces. I am hopeful that my track record in the commercial, cultural and digital fields will help continue the trajectory of success that Charles Mackay with the Trustees and the management have so ably achieved. In particular, I am excited to be continuing my passion for promoting great British institutions and ideas on the global stage.”


Michael Day CVO, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, adds:“I am extremely pleased to welcome Rupert Gavin as Chairman and look forward to working with him at an exciting time for the organisation. Rupert brings a wealth of valuable experience and I’m confident that his leadership of the Board of Trustees will support us in realising our ambitions for the coming years. On behalf of all of us at Historic Royal Palaces, I also thank Charles Mackay for nine years of extraordinary service; we are deeply grateful to him for the role he has played in helping the charity achieve its goals during a time of considerable change.”


Charles Mackay CBE said: “I am delighted that Rupert Gavin is to succeed me as Chairman. I am sure that he will enjoy the role immensely, as I have done. He brings a unique and varied combination of business, media and cultural experience to guide and assist Historic Royal Palaces in the next stage of its dynamic and successful evolution.”


Mr Gavin takes up his appointment in an especially busy year for Historic Royal Palaces. Hampton Court, renowned as Henry VIII’s pleasure palace, celebrates its 500th anniversary in 2015.  A series of spectacular celebrations will mark the occasion, and the new Magic Garden will open later in the year. Work will also continue to open up Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland to the widest possible audience. Historic Royal Palaces will be taking the palaces ‘on the road’ for the very first time, with ‘Tudors on Tour’, a major family festival, taking place at Tatton Park in Cheshire over the May Bank Holiday weekend (2–4 May). Meanwhile, major conservation projects are getting underway at the Tower of London and the Banqueting House in Whitehall.


Notes for Editors

Historic Royal Palaces

Established by Royal Charter in 1998, Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace the Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.  With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and Historic Royal Palaces manages them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Historic Royal Palaces raises all its own funds and depends on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers.

Historic Royal Palaces’ Cause is to help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built.

The charity has a turnover of £80m, welcomes over 4 million visitors to its sites every year, employs over 800 people, is supported by 200 volunteers and has 80,000 Members.

The Chairman and Trustees give their services on an honorary basis. Expenses incurred by them, in the performance of their duties, are reimbursed.


For more information about Historic Royal Palaces, please contact the press office on 020 3166 6166 or email /


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