RT's visit to Buckingham Palace
3/9/2005 (updated 3/23/2005)

On March 1st, 2005, The Queen opened the doors of Buckingham Palace to the music industry for the first time, with an event to celebrate its contribution to British culture. Approximately 500 musicians and industry figures, including Richard Thompson, attended the reception given by Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh, representing the first time the Queen has recognised the music industry en masse.

Here are some notes from RT regarding the visit:

"It was a good experience. Having seen Buck House from the outside for 50 years, it was fun to get a look around..and there were some interesting folk there.

It's a 600-room palace. The Queen and Philip live in a suite of 12 rooms 2 floors up, at the back, overlooking the gardens. The rest is offices, other residential parts, and more public rooms. This event was in the State Rooms, 5 large rooms pretty grandly appointed, and open to the public nowadays on the summer tours. The central of these rooms is the Picture Gallery, which is hung with a jaw-dropping selection of paintings by Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Van Dyke, etc., worth - I should think - hundreds of millions of pounds. I believe some are owned by the Queen, and some by the State. If you've visited stately homes or other palaces in Europe, the feel and the appointments are much the same. Staffing levels were very high, with a lot of staff seeming to be ex-military.

The Queen was dressed in a pale blue ensemble, and seeing it 'live', the colour choices of the Royals, lime greens and lemons and peaches, all made sense - she stands out in terms of colour, and that's how you know she's the Queen! Her Majesty looks very healthy, stands about five-zero, and has sparkly eyes and considerable charisma. Many people that evening remarked to me that it was a rotten job, and given a choice, who would want to do it?

I was surprised to see 'groupings' of people - Aged Divas (Cilla Black, Pet Clark, Shirley Bassey), Scottish Mafia (Phil Cunningham, Dougie MacLean, Eddie Reader, Evelyn Glennie), Captains of Industry (Heads of Sanctuary, Sony, EMI, etc.), Guitar Gods (Clapton, Page, Beck). It was nice to run into Martin and Norma, Joan Armatrading, Kathryn Tickell, and a host of others. Someone I hadn't seen for 37 years was Phil Dudderidge, who was Fairport's first roadie, who went on to found Soundcraft, and now runs Focusrite. People I failed to recognize and would have loved to have met included: Dame Janet Baker, Willard White, George Fenton, and John Barry.

My impression is that there were anything up to 6 people across the various styles of music represented, asked to contribute names to the list. That would explain the wide net cast, and the considerable omissions. There were around 500 there, about half being business leaders, committee heads, and the like.

I got my 20 seconds with the Queen. I was introduced to her by Tony Wadsworth, head of EMI, who described me as a singer and songwriter. Her Majesty remarked, "Oh! How lovely for you!" I said I hoped it was lovely for everyone else as well, at which Her Majesty laughed and moved along. I was part of a larger group chatting to Prince Philip, who was telling jokes and being one of the 'chaps'. The Duke and Duchess of Kent, and the Duchess of Wessex were also there. The latter was very nice, and probably the most interested in music. I was disappointed the Queen didn't ask me about working with Nick Drake."

Richard Thompson
March 4th, 2005

BBC article here