Music community pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II


September 9, 2022

Various music industry organisations and a plethora of artists yesterday paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following the news that the British monarch had died, aged 96. The Queen’s death also resulted in the last minute postponement of last night’s Mercury Prize.

The Queen’s passing was formally announced at around 6.30pm with a statement reading: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow”.

The King and the Queen Consort refers, of course, to Prince Charles – now King Charles III – and his wife Camilla. He said in a statement: “The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family. We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother”.

“I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth”, he added, “and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held”.

Among the music industry organisations to issue a statement about the Queen’s death was cross-sector trade group UK Music, which stated: “We are deeply saddened at the news of the Queen’s death. Putting public service above all else, she was a role model to millions across the world. Our thoughts are with the Royal Family and all those whose lives she touched over many years. May she rest in peace”.

The CEO of record label trade group BPI, Geoff Taylor, said: “We share in our nation’s grief and mourning at the passing of Her Majesty The Queen. Our thoughts are with her family. From the music sector we give heartfelt thanks for a lifetime of selfless duty and public service”.

Meanwhile, the Musicians’ Union said: “The MU is saddened by the news of the death of the Queen and joins the country in paying its respects. Her passing is a significant and sad event”. The union’s General Secretary, Naomi Pohl, added: “The Queen has been a constant figure throughout many crises, recessions and of course the recent pandemic and she has seen many governments come and go”.

“Countless musicians have performed for her over the years”, she went on, “from military bands to the Royal Variety Performances and her jubilee events. And who can forget [Brian May] performing on the roof of Buckingham Palace? She’s met high profile musicians, music industry figures and engaged with people from all walks of life, and we pay our respects”.

The audience for this year’s Mercury Prize awards ceremony had already arrived at London’s Hammersmith Apollo when the Queen’s death was announced. Shortly afterwards organisers canceled the event and asked attendees to leave the venue.

Given the mixed opinions within the British population regarding how individuals and society at large should respond to the passing of a monarch in the 21st Century, there was a little bit of criticism regarding that decision on social media, with people noting that some other concerts and sporting events were going ahead as planned. Though proceeding with a big televised award ceremony would likely have resulted in a much bigger backlash.

Plus, of course, the event’s media partner, the BBC, wouldn’t have been able to broadcast it. Coverage was planned on BBC Four and BBC 6 Music. However, as soon as the Queen’s death was announced, all of the BBC’s radio stations switched to a single broadcast about her death, while the BBC’s TV channels were either broadcasting similar coverage from BBC News or were off the air entirely.

Confirming that the awards show would not go ahead, organisers of the Mercury Prize 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”.

Among the artists paying tribute to the Queen on social media were Elton John, who stated: “Along with the rest of the nation, I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s passing. She was an inspiring presence to be around and led the country through some of our greatest and darkest moments with grace, decency and a genuine caring warmth. Queen Elizabeth has been a huge part of my life from childhood to this day, and I will miss her dearly”.

Mick Jagger said in a statement: “For my whole life Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has always been there. In my childhood I can recall watching her wedding highlights on TV. I remember her as a beautiful young lady, to the much beloved grandmother of the nation. My deepest sympathies are with the Royal Family”.

In a longer post, Annie Lennox wrote: “I just found out that HRH The Queen has peacefully passed away. One of my early memories from the late 50s is standing on the roadside among a crowd of people waving little Union Jack flags as we waited for the royal car to drive by”.

“The Queen had arrived to open a new bridge on the outskirts of Aberdeen”, she added. “It all felt very grand and festive, with everyone hoping to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty. Tremendous excitement and expectation was in the air. Suddenly the grandest Rolls Royce limousine appeared and I remember the glimpse of a gloved royal hand waving behind the window. Then it was all over in a flash and the Queen had gone”.

“A monarch’s life is lived with two distinct sides”, she then observed. “One is as an outwards facing public figure and representative of their country, and the other is as a human being and private person. There is a difference between the two. Queen Elizabeth came from a time in history when there was still a modicum of separation between them. Gradually over time the world changed, and the outside world via the media had more ‘access’ to the ‘private’ world than ever before”.

“I think she did an incredible job of staying on course throughout the extraordinary events of her reign and her lifetime”, she concluded. “Whether you happen to be pro or anti monarchy, there’s no question that she totally performed her duties par excellence right up to a few days before her passing. I doubt that anyone can compare to her. Britain has lost one of it’s most outstanding monarchs, the like of which I doubt will ever be seen again. RIP Queen Elizabeth”.

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