IQ will not be publishing news today as a mark of respect to Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her funeral.
The UK’s longest-serving monarch passed away on 8 September aged 96 at the royal residence in Balmoral, Scotland, following a 70-year reign, with the throne immediately passing to her eldest son, King Charles III.
Her funeral service, which is expected to be attended by 2,000 guests, takes place this morning at Westminster Abbey in London.
The choirs of Westminster Abbey and His Majesty’s Chapel Royal will sing during the service.
The Queen had a long association with the music and arts, receiving two honorary degrees in music before ascending the throne – a Bachelor of Music from the University of London and a Doctor of Music from the University of Wales – and also presented the Queen Mother with an honorary degree from the Royal College of Music in 1973.
Her recent Platinum Jubilee was marked with the Platinum Party at the Palace concert outside Buckingham Palace in June, featuring the likes of Rod Stewart, Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Hans Zimmer, Ella Eyre, Sam Ryder, Craig David and Mabel.
Australia, where she was head of state, hosted the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Concert at St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane on 6 August, directed by composer Alexander Voltz and organist Andrej Kouznetsov.
“In my experience, the Queen was great about music”
For her Diamond Jubilee Concert in 2012, Buckingham Palace welcomed a multitude of stars such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Robbie Williams, Gary Barlow, Shirley Bassey, Grace Jones, Stevie Wonder, Cliff Richard and Kylie Minogue.
And a decade earlier, in 2002, two events – the Prom at the Palace classical music concert and the pop/rock-oriented Party at the Palace – were held to celebrate Her Majesty’s first 50 years on the throne. Performers at the former included Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Julian Bliss, Ashley Wass and Zenaida Yanowsky.
The latter, meanwhile, kicked off with a now legendary version of God Save the Queen by Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, featuring May on the roof of Buckingham Palace. Other acts included Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Jones, Emma Bunton, Blue and Atomic Kitten.
“In my experience, the Queen was great about music,” composer Judith Weir, the first woman to be appointed Master of the Queen’s Music, tells the Washington Post. “She had a good musical upbringing with piano lessons, doing things like madrigal singing when she was young. She had an immense respect for musicians, and a lot of understanding.”
“That was a great day meeting Lady Gaga and it supported local theatre in a way that she was supporting the charity”
The Royal Variety Performance has also hosted countless iconic music acts down the years, from Sammy Davis Jr to Lady Gaga. However, the Queen was sadly absent for The Beatles’ legendary 1963 bow, which was instead attended by the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. The show is best remembered for John Lennon’s quip: “For our last number, I’d like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewellery.”
Giles Cooper, chairman of the Royal Variety charity, tells the BBC via the Evening Standard: “She was very tactful, but it was great to always see the look of the face of every performer, whether it be legends from the past or new performers, she meant so much to the entertainment industry.”
Cooper also discusses the Queen’s meeting with Lady Gaga following the latter’s performance at the 2009 Royal Variety Show in Blackpool, for which Gaga wore a full-length red latex dress and was suspended into the air with a grand piano.
“The Queen would always like to visit the regions and so for many years we alternated going to a city outside of London – we went to Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh,” he says. “That was a great day meeting Lady Gaga and it supported local theatre in a way that she was supporting the charity.
“How often would Lady Gaga or Bette Midler go to Blackpool, it was a great way of her showing support for the regions.”
“During her seven-decade reign, she embraced musicians and performers across all genres in both the UK and abroad”
The monarch opened venues such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre in 1967 and, more recently, Scarborough Open Air Theatre in 2010. She was also patron of music organisations such as Help Musicians UK, London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Academy of Music.
The Queen’s relatives discussed her music tastes in the BBC documentary Our Queen: 90 Musical Years. Among her favourite songs were The White Cliffs Of Dover by Vera Lynn, Cheek to Cheek by Fred Astaire and Sing by Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band featuring the Military Wives, which was co-written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
“Her Majesty was a champion of the arts, and during her seven-decade reign, she embraced musicians and performers across all genres in both the UK and abroad, from her Jubilee concerts, to the Master of the Queen’s Music, to military bands, she was never far from a good tune,” reads a tribute from UK Music.
“It wasn’t always clear exactly what music she deeply loved, but that changed in 2016 with a BBC programme and playlist that spotlighted some of her favourite shows and songs. ‘The Queen loves the theatre and musicals like Showboat, Oklahoma! and Annie Get Your Gun,’ her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Anson, said.
“It will perhaps come as little surprise, given her ties to Scotland, that Queen Elizabeth II also loved the music of pipe bands. ‘Apparently, we were one of the few bands ever invited to Balmoral to play for her,’ said the Mount Forest pipers after being recruited for a performance. May she rest in peace.”
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