A QUEEN AND A DAME–AND 140 YEARS!
(A guest post by Peter from London)
As the world looks back on and celebrates the life and work of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, it is incredible to reflect that Dame Shirley Bassey’s career has stretched for almost the entire length of The Queen’s reign.
The Queen and The Dame were born just over a decade apart, into completely different worlds and a completely different world. And yet, from the early 1950s on, they have each pursued their destinies with determination, commitment and willpower. Between them they have 140 years of combined service to their craft.
The Queen was a constant in the life of the United Kingdom – and the world – for eight decades. The Dame has been similarly constant in our cultural life since 1953. Her first recording was in 1956. Her most recent in 2020.
Between those two dates, Dame Shirley has sung for The Queen and her family on many occasions. We all know the iconic Royal Variety performances, with perhaps the most iconic being that of 2005 which brought us a career highlight, ‘The Living Tree’. But, more than that, looking at the photographs from that show, we see two women after careers of 50 years and more still at the top of their game.
Then there were the performances for Her Majesty’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees and for her 90th birthday. There were also all the royal receptions, lunches and other events to which Dame Shirley was invited. These have provided us with some of the most indelible images of her career to date.
Not only has Dame Shirley performed for The Queen and her family, she has also received recognition from them. First, her CBE in 1994. Second, her DBE in 2000. They make her one of the most decorated show business personalities of The Queen’s reign.
Dame Shirley herself has issued a powerful statement paying tribute to The Queen. It uses words that could equally be applied to Dame Shirley, steadfast and inspirational. And who could deny that The Dame herself has mighty courage, is an iconic example and unstoppable force?
While we are never likely to know which of Dame Shirley’s songs The Queen most liked, let us dedicate this one to her. It surely captures what we would all have liked to have said to her if only we had had the chance. May she rest in peace. With her beloved husband, Philip. An example to us all. To the very end. Your Majesty, thank you for the years.