Barack Obama at the Globe theatre, London
Barack Obama watches a selection of songs and excerpts from Hamlet as he tours the Globe Theatre in LondonReuters

President Barack Obama started his final day in London with a visit to the Globe theatre, a replica of the playhouse that William Shakespeare created in 1599. Obama watched part of Hamlet, one of the Bard's best-known plays, which included the famous "To be or not to be…" speech and featured folk music with violins and accordians from the Elizabethan age, on Saturday, 23 April.

During the performance, Obama stood in the open-air theatre, appeared to enjoy the spectacle and was particularly moved by the music, swaying to the melodies. He clapped loudly as the performance ended and was invited to join the actors on stage.

"Let me shake hands with everyone. That was wonderful," he said. "I don't want it to stop."

Before the performance, the president was given a brief tour of the theatre by Patrick Spottiswoode, director of Globe Education. He told Spottiswoode: "You're doing a great job."

The visit was a highlight for Obama, who has named Shakespeare's tragedies as among the top three books that have inspired him.

After the performance, Obama attended a town hall meeting in central London, where he answered questions from British youth in a live Q&A session.

Celebrating Shakespeare's life

Celebrations for Shakespeare's 400th anniversary are taking place this weekend (23-24 April), which will include a live celebration on the BBC, featuring David Tennant performing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Princes Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will be in attendance.

David Tennant is currently appearing as Richard II in Greg Doran's Royal Shakespeare Company production of Shakespeare's historic play, which is available for the first time online across the world.

Performers at Shakespeare Live on BBC will include Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Helen Mirren and Benedict Cumberbatch. Other names on the bill include Meera Syal, Joseph Fiennes, David Suchet, Simon Russell Beale, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Harriet Walter, Anne-Marie Duff and the cast of Horrible Histories.