Mercury prize postponed owing to death of Queen Elizabeth II

<span>Photograph: JMEnternational/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: JMEnternational/Getty Images

The Mercury prize ceremony, which was due to take place on Thursday night, has been postponed after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. A new date for the ceremony, which recognises the best British or Irish album of the year, has yet to be announced.

The introductory stages of the evening, held at the London Eventim Apollo, were already under way when news of the monarch’s death broke.

An announcement shown to guests in the room said: “In light of the sad news of the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, we are sorry to announce that we will not be proceeding with this evening’s event as planned. The Mercury prize will be communicating with guests and audience members over the coming days. We thank you for your understanding at this difficult and sad time.”

It said dinner would not be served, and asked guests to finish their drinks and leave the venue by 7.30pm.

Prior to the announcement of the Queen’s death, the traditional red carpet and media interviews that take place before the ceremony had been scrapped, along with plans for the winner’s press conference.

A subsequent statement released to the press said: “Tonight’s Mercury prize event has been postponed at this time of great national sorrow. We know everyone involved in the Mercury prize will understand. Our thoughts and condolences are with the royal family at this very difficult time. We will make an announcement regarding future arrangements as soon as we are able.”

The electronic screens outside the venue showed a black-and-white photograph of the Queen.

This year’s Mercury nominees include the former One Direction star Harry Styles; chart-topping Isle of Wight indie duo Wet Leg; geordie singer-songwriter Sam Fender; Oscar-nominated actor Jessie Buckley, for her collaborative album with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler; and grime star Kojey Radical.

Of the 12 artists on the list, only London rapper Little Simz is a second-time nominee, for her fourth album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert; all other acts nominated are debut nominees. (Butler won the prize in 1993 as part of Suede.) Four of the albums nominated – those by Wet Leg, Kojey Radical, R&B singer Joy Crookes and post-punk band Yard Act – are debut records.

Aside from Styles and, to a lesser extent, Fender, there are few pop A-listers to be found on this year’s shortlist. The list highlights lesser-known artists, such as Scottish jazz pianist Fergus McCreadie, Cornish-language producer Gwenno, punk duo Nova Twins, and alt-pop singer Self Esteem, whose nominated album Prioritise Pleasure was named by the Guardian as the best of 2021.