Richard E Grant: Charles was extraordinarily kind to my wife before she died

·3-min read

Richard E Grant has praised King Charles III, who arranged to visit his wife before she died from lung cancer last year.

Joan Washington, who was a voice coach to celebrities including Penelope Cruz and Jessica Chastain, died in September last year at the age of 74.

Swazi-English actor Grant, whose wife died eight months after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, praises the new King in his forthcoming memoir, A Pocketful Of Happiness.

He said Charles and Camilla sent long, solicitous letters and arranged a visit to Highgrove House around Washington’s medical appointments.

Grant, who is an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, told the Mail on Sunday’s You magazine: “He’s a well-documented fan of accents and The Goon Show, and as my wife was an accent coach he loved her ability to do different voices.

“They were both extraordinarily kind, visiting and so on, given how busy he is.”

The former Prince of Wales ascended to the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Thursday.

Grant, 65, has also praised a number of famous faces who were at his side when he was grieving.

He said TV chef Nigella Lawson “cabbed food over every single Sunday”, while Gabriel Byrne, who played Grant’s alcoholic father in film Wah-Wah, sat for hours chatting with Washington in their Cotswold cottage.

Similarly, Grant said Melissa McCarthy, who was nominated for an Oscar alongside him for 2018’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, was endlessly supportive in text and in person, with the actor calling her “a five-star treat”.

Speaking about his grief, Grant said: “Like the weather, it changes a lot every hour. Something can trigger you completely unexpectedly.

“You’ll be standing in the supermarket and just have to crumple because something has reminded you.

“Or you see somebody that you haven’t seen for a while who you then have to console as they’re upset because they have just heard what’s happened to my wife.

“So I think you don’t get over grief – and I know this from the death of our first child – but you go around it. It’s a daily navigation.”

The actor described his new memoir as the “love story of my life” having been with Washington for 38 years.

Grant, who plays the lead role in a new film called The Tutor, said: “I’m astonished to be getting the amount of work I am getting at my age.

“It’s been a great diversion from dealing with all this, though recording the audio version of the book was brutal, inevitably.”

Grant married Washington in 1986 and they had a daughter, Olivia. Washington also had a son, Tom, from a previous relationship.

Washington, from Aberdeen, trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and had nearly 40 years’ experience in the film industry as a voice and dialect coach, working with stars including Anne Hathaway, Vanessa Redgrave and Emma Stone.

Among her early projects in the mid-1980s were Yentl, starring Barbra Streisand, Highlander, and The Bounty, featuring Mel Gibson and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

More recently, she worked on features such as The Witches, where she coached Hathaway for the part of the Grand High Witch, and Yorgos Lanthimos’s black comedy The Favourite, where she worked with Stone.