From Marilyn Monroe to Lady Gaga: How the Queen charmed the stars

·3-min read
The Queen meets Lady Gaga (Leon Neal/PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen meets Lady Gaga (Leon Neal/PA) (PA Archive)

The Queen encountered hundreds of showbiz stars, pop legends and Hollywood greats over the decades.

Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Madonna were just some of the well-known celebrities who delighted in greeting the monarch with a curtsy or a bow.

Marilyn Monroe shaking hands with the Queen at the Royal Command Film Performance in 1956 (PA) (PA Archive)
Marilyn Monroe shaking hands with the Queen at the Royal Command Film Performance in 1956 (PA) (PA Archive)

Glittering film premieres, Buckingham Palace receptions for the arts, Royal Variety Performances, Jubilee concerts, and investitures to honour those in the music or the movie industry saw the sovereign meet many famous faces during her official duties.

The Queen was never fazed, but even some of the most well-known performers admitted to nerves as they waited in line to speak to the UK’s longest-serving head of state.

Madonna curtsying to the Queen at the world premiere of the James Bond film Die Another Day in 2002 (PA) (PA Archive)
Madonna curtsying to the Queen at the world premiere of the James Bond film Die Another Day in 2002 (PA) (PA Archive)

Actor and filmmaker Sir Kenneth Branagh once said he had no recollection of the conversation he had with the Queen.

“I have no idea, I was so nervous. It was a kind of dream and I couldn’t believe it was happening,” he said.

The Queen receives an honorary Bafta from Sir Kenneth Branagh for a lifetime’s support of British film and television in 2013 (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen receives an honorary Bafta from Sir Kenneth Branagh for a lifetime’s support of British film and television in 2013 (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)

Sir Kenneth added: “I was terrified – terrified of stepping on dogs, the corgis are everywhere.”

The Queen came face to face with “James Bond” several times – meeting the 007 actors Sir Sean Connery, Sir Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig.

The Queen with former Bond star Sir Roger Moore (Fiona Hanson/PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen with former Bond star Sir Roger Moore (Fiona Hanson/PA) (PA Archive)

She even became a Bond Girl when she made a cameo appearance at Craig’s side in a spoof for the 2012 London Olympic opening ceremony, in which the pair appeared to skydive into the stadium.

The monarch also met Superman – American actor Christopher Reeve – in 1978.

The Queen, who was attending the European royal charity premiere of Superman, meets Christopher Reeve at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square in 1978 (PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen, who was attending the European royal charity premiere of Superman, meets Christopher Reeve at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square in 1978 (PA) (PA Archive)

The Beatles came into contact with the Queen in 1965 when they collected their MBE medals at a palace investiture.

John Lennon returned his four years later, but Sir Paul McCartney went on to be knighted and to perform at the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee concerts.

England football captain David Beckham had several trips to the royal residences, and the Queen was also introduced to the Spice Girls.

The Queen shakes hands with Geri Halliwell as she met the Spice Girls in 1998 (PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen shakes hands with Geri Halliwell as she met the Spice Girls in 1998 (PA) (PA Archive)

Sir Elton John, will.i.am, Kylie Minogue and Jennifer Lopez all shook hands with the monarch backstage over the years, as did Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Tom Jones and Sir Cliff Richard after performances for the Queen.

Lady Gaga donned a red floor-length PVC gown with a 20ft cloak to meet the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Variety Show in 2009.

The Queen, with Kylie Minogue, meets will.i.am backstage at the Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace in 2012 (Dave Thompson/PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen, with Kylie Minogue, meets will.i.am backstage at the Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace in 2012 (Dave Thompson/PA) (PA Archive)

Her interaction with another celebrity of sorts delighted millions when she appeared in a surprise comic sketch with Paddington Bear, as part of the celebrations earlier this year honouring her 70-year reign.

The monarch and the bear met for a chaotic cream tea at Buckingham Palace in a special, secretly pre-recorded sequence played at the start of the televised BBC Platinum Party at the Palace event.

The duffle-coat wearing bear from Michael Bond’s books told the Queen how he made sure he always had his favourite treat on him, just in case, lifting up his red hat to reveal a marmalade sandwich.

The Queen delighted him in turn by saying she shared his love of the snack, as she opened her handbag to reveal a stash.

The crowd watching a film of the Queen having tea with Paddington Bear on a big screen during the Platinum Party at the Palace (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
The crowd watching a film of the Queen having tea with Paddington Bear on a big screen during the Platinum Party at the Palace (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Another national treasure the monarch had a strong rapport with is Sir David Attenborough.

In 2018 the pair appeared together in a documentary programme that followed the progress of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project, a project to create a network of protected Commonwealth forests around the globe in tribute to the Queen’s service to the family of nations.

The ITV documentary, The Queen’s Green Planet, featured a unique and informal conversation between the head of state and the veteran presenter, filmed in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

Sir David and the Queen had known each other for many years, with the broadcaster producing the Queen’s televised Christmas Day address for more than five years in the 1980s and 1990s.