The United Kingdom is currently mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who died Sept. 8 at the age of 96 after a record-breaking seven decades on the throne. Between opening hospitals and libraries, traveling the country and, of course, walking her corgis, it became common for her to end up shaking hands with the rich and famous at various events over the duration of her reign. Of course, she also encountered a plethora of rock stars during her time, even if she might have preferred Beethoven to Behemoth playing in her royal quarters. Here are some of the names who got an audience with Her Majesty.
Jimmy Page, Brian May, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck
On one occasion in 2005, the Queen essentially lived a classic-rock fan’s dream, getting an audience with four icons of the genre all at the same time. The only trouble was, the only man standing in line before her who she only just vaguely recognized was Brian May, after he played the National Anthem with the house orchestra at a party to celebrate the Golden Jubilee two years earlier. The rest of them had to do something that they probably hadn’t had to do for a long time — explain who they were. Awkward. Eric Clapton took it in good spirits, however, telling Associated Press that he didn’t expect the Queen to recognize him, and it didn’t matter.
Every year, just before Christmas, the Royal Variety Performance brings some of the biggest names from the world of music, theater, dance and comedy under one roof to perform for the Royal Family. After the event, it isn’t unusual for those who took to the stage to get to speak to whoever from the family is in attendance, and in 2005, the Guns N’ Roses axeman had the opportunity to greet the Queen after performing The Beatles’ classic “In My Life” with none other than Ozzy Osbourne. What song did she prefer though, “Paranoid” or “Sweet Child O’Mine”? We will likely never know.
Jon Bon Jovi
Two years after Slash did the honors, Jon Bon Jovi had his chance to shake the hand of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance in Liverpool, in the northwest of England that year. The legendary rocker had flown over from the U.S. with his bandmates in tow to rattle through the group’s biggest hits with the royals present at their annual celebration of arts and culture. After the Queen’s passing was announced, he shared a photo of him offering his hand to her, commenting, “Queen Elizabeth was the ultimate example of service and duty… today is a sad day.”
Twice yearly, around New Year’s Eve and on the monarch’s birthday, a selection of names are chosen to receive honors for their services and achievements in their field. The keyboardist from famed prog rockers Yes got a nod in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last summer and described himself as “stunned and proud” upon hearing the news. Paying tribute to the monarch on the day of her passing, he recalled meeting her on Twitter: “I consider myself really lucky to have met the Queen and to know that because of her love of people, her country and the Commonwealth, so were many thousands of others.”
Keen fans of the Pretty Reckless will know that frontwoman Taylor Momsen was in front of a camera before she first got behind the mic in the early 2010s. While she was best known for appearing in Gossip Girl, her career had begun much earlier, when she was still a child. At the age of 7, she played Cindy Lou Who in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and the young Momsen could be seen meekly curtseying to the Queen on the red carpet at the film’s U.K. premiere in December 2000. How’s that for an early Christmas present?
In the time before she’d cut and bleached her hair and blackened her eyelids, Miley Cyrus was already a household name thanks to Hannah Montana, even though the songs she was writing as a fresh-faced 18-year-old had more than a hint of a rocky edge. It was around this time the Plastic Hearts singer met the Queen, after performing “Party In The USA” at the Royal Variety Performance in 2009. She later admitted that it was one of the most “nerve-wracking” moments of her life, revealing that she found it scarier than her actual performance.
At the same concert where May lent the National Anthem a rock ‘n’ roll twist, the Black Sabbath frontman reunited with guitarist Tony Iommi to bring some metal representation to the Golden Jubilee party with a rendition of “Paranoid.” Later, when the time came for him to greet the Queen, he had an unexpected guest perched on his shoulder — none other than Kermit the Frog. Sadly, any hopes of a collaboration has never materialized.
After four decades at the helm of renowned and deeply influential British rockers the Who, Roger Daltrey was invited to Buckingham Palace to collect his CBE from the Queen in 2005. Of course, it was an honor for his services to music, but he was also recognized for his extensive work for charity. At the time, he had raised over £2 million ($2.3 million) for the Teenage Cancer Trust, and also played a large role in creating their annual concert series that now takes place in London’s famous Royal Albert Hall. If that’s not a reason to get to say hello to Your Majesty, then what is?
For the members of arena rockers Def Leppard, meeting Her Royal Highness was more of a priority than finishing their own gig. While rocking out in front of 40,000 people at another Golden Jubilee in Temple Newsam Park in the northern city of Leeds (where part of the beloved U.K. rock festival Slam Dunk now takes place), the “Pour Some Sugar On Me” legends cut their performance short so they would have a moment to see the Queen in person in 2002. Following her death, frontman Joe Elliott shared a photo of them from that day on Twitter, remarking, “If there’s ever one word to describe this wonderful lady and monarch it’s dignity.”