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Queen's Diamond Jubilee: Ear plugs at the ready, Ma'am! Kylie, Tom Jones and Robbie Williams... But who'll be picked to perform God Save The Queen?

By // News | Queen's Diamond Jubilee: Ear plugs at the ready, Ma'am! Kylie, Tom Jones and Robbie Williams... But who'll be picked to perform God Save The Queen?
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By Alison Boshoff

PUBLISHED: 21:08 EST, 25 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:41 EST, 25 May 2012

The Queen’s choice is Sir Cliff Richard, 71, who is going to serenade her with Congratulations.

And the Duke of Edinburgh has apparently requested Dame Shirley Bassey, the diva’s diva who is still going strong at 75. She will sweep into London  from the tax haven of Monaco, where she lives.

Indeed, despite the inclusion of bright young things JLS and Jessie J, Bank Holiday Monday’s Diamond Jubilee concert is aimed squarely at middle-aged Middle England.

The performers, who include Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John, will play to an audience of 10,000 on a specially constructed stage on the Victoria memorial in front of Buckingham Palace.

Line-up: Kylie Minogue is tipped to sing the Anthem. Shirley Bassey (right) was apparently requested to perform by the Duke of Edinburgh

That alone has cost £200,000 to put up and the BBC has spent a further £300,000 on spectacular lighting.

The three-hour extravaganza will be broadcast live on BBC 1 and Radio 2 from 7.30pm.

As you might expect, the mix of input from the Palace, the BBC and the creative approach of the rock industry has been at times incendiary.

There have been terrible rows over who — if anyone — will be willing to sing God Save The Queen, and mutterings of dissent between the artists, not all of whom are the best of friends.

Lorna Dickinson, the show’s executive producer, admitted: ‘There have been clashes, of course, with so many people involved.

‘Everyone has their own musical taste,  their own approach to the music, their own favourites.’

For instance there was talk of Jessie J and Tom Jones, both judges on BBC’s The Voice, being kept apart after it was suggested that their on-screen rivalry had spilled over into real life.

But Jones was at pains last week to talk of his fondness for his high-maintenance co-star in a radio interview.

And some performers don’t get on with Annie Lennox, who has a reputation for being intense to the point of rudeness.

Meanwhile, after some grumbling from Paul McCartney, who apparently demurred at the suggestion he should sing the National Anthem, that honour is now to go to Lancashire operatic tenor Alfie Boe.

The performers - including Robbie Williams (left) and Tom Jones (right) - will play an audience of 10,000 on a specially constructed stage on the Victoria memorial in front of Buckingham Palace

The BBC insists it’ll be performed in a way the audience will find ‘unexpected’ — which usually means it’ll be a duet, perhaps with Kylie Minogue, who is famously easy-going.

It is no surprise that those who’ve agreed to play have been told rather sternly they are to behave on the big day.

Even their backstage demands have been kept as simple as possible. So far, Macca has asked for vegetarian food and incense, and Elton is said to want Diet Coke in cans, San Pellegrino water and ‘relaxed’ lighting. (Coming from someone as high-maintenance as Elton, that’s virtually agreeing to do the gig in bare feet.)

Jessie J has asked for salt-and-vinegar Snack a Jacks and mint tea, while Kylie just wants herbal tea and honey.

Sir Tom has put in for his usual rider — French white wine of a decent vintage and black hand towels to mop up sweat (white ones become too grubby from melting stage make-up.)

A temporary marquee in the grounds of the Palace will house the stars, with dressing rooms and a bar area, and the artists will be ferried around the Palace grounds in a fleet of golf buggies.

But what about the music?

Gary Barlow, creative head of the venture, has told them they have ‘strictly’ six minutes each. They have been told to play music that is positive and uplifting, that there will be ‘zero tolerance’ for any bad behaviour, and they aren’t being paid a penny.

You can’t imagine Sir Cliff falling foul of any of these rules, but there are still a few issues and wrinkles.

Paul McCartney (left) apparently demurred at the suggestion he should sing the Anthem. Jessie J (right) has asked for salt-and-vinegar Snack a Jacks and mint tea for backstage

As of this week, Sir Elton wanted to play Candle In The Wind, the ballad forever associated with the late Princess of Wales after he played it at her funeral.

They were close friends, and he feels he wants to sing it to reflect her importance at this event, which will be attended by Princes William and Harry.

However, there is nervousness in some quarters about how it might go down at the Palace.

One of Elton’s friends sighed: ‘I don’t know if he’s doing it. It all has to go through Gary Barlow. At the moment it changes every hour.’

The concert will cost £4 million to stage — stumped up by the BBC, which has the broadcast rights. Producer Dickinson says she’s confident it’ll make money from sales in Japan, Germany and across the Commonwealth. In the U.S., the event will be screened on ABC.

The famous Beatles producer Sir George Martin is a creative consultant — as he was for the Golden Jubilee concert. In overall charge is Bill Morris, the BBC’s project director for live events.

The BBC has hired renowned designer Mark Fisher, who has previously worked with U2 and The Rolling Stones, to make the stage as spectacular as possible — more so than the Golden Jubilee concert.

That kicked off, of course, with Brian May famously performing God Save The Queen on the roof of the Palace.

May says he’s not been invited this time: ‘No, we haven’t been asked at all, which is a shame.

‘Maybe next time we will, the one after Diamond, whatever that is. I don’t know how they’re going to top the Golden Jubilee event, but that’s Gary Barlow’s problem. They’ll have to drop him from a helicopter or something.’

Indeed, it is quite a problem. For although Barlow made some rather confident noises about only wanting ‘world-class’ performers, he’s struggled to fill the bill.

There is a long list of some of the best British stars who are simply not going to be there. Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Ozzy Osbourne performed a decade ago at the Party At The Palace for the Golden Jubilee — but won’t take part this time.

Ozzy’s spokesman says he wasn’t even asked; Clapton’s just that he’s not going to be there.

And The Rolling Stones, arguably our biggest musical export, won’t be, either — a spokesman will only confirm that they are ‘not playing for the Queen or the Olympics’.

In truth Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are at such daggers drawn after decades of an increasingly fractious relationship that they are unable to agree on a touring schedule for their own 50th anniversary this year.

Meanwhile, Adele, Britain’s most successful female singer in decades, has also declined. She, it seems, was not persuaded by Gary Barlow’s approaches.

And even though he made a trip to America earlier this year to try to woo recording stars there, he also failed to secure Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, all of whom were on a wish-list.

Robbie Williams, his former Take That bandmate, did agree to perform, and it’s thought Barlow plans to sing with him at some point, though he is not going to have his own slot on the running order.

Princes William and Harry also wanted to see Jay-Z on the bill, but again he turned the Queen down.

So, in the end, the star turn is almost certainly going to be Prince Harry, who’s been asked to shake a tambourine on the special Gary Barlow/Andrew Lloyd Webber Jubilee song called ‘Sing’ on stage towards the end of the evening.

That should at least make the Queen smile. For there are some signs that, at 86, she’s not completely in the mood for a pop festival on her doorstep.

Barlow does not expect her to attend the whole show, and thinks she will probably only stay to hear Sir Cliff.

In a TV interview he said: ‘The first thing she asked me was: “What time does the concert finish?”
I said: “Oh, about half past ten, your Majesty.”

‘She said: “How long does it take to take down all the equipment then?”

I said: “About seven hours,” and she said: “So they’re going to be taking it down all through the night, so all my family who live at the front of the Palace are going to be kept awake all night?”

I said: “Yeah”. It was really awkward!’

It should be noted that at the Golden Jubilee concert, she was present only for the final 35 minutes, and even then was wearing ear protectors.

This time around, despite the best efforts of Barlow and numerous meetings about the project, again she seems unlikely to be entirely approving.

Barlow said: ‘She chooses when she comes and goes, so she’ll probably be heading out when I start to sing and back when Cliff starts to sing,’ he said.

It all sounds like a right royal headache.

TV HIGHLIGHTS

The Queen was just 25 and a young mother when she took the throne, Alan Titchmarsh talks to her family and reveals how she juggled her roles

The Queen was just 25 and a young mother when she took the throne, Alan Titchmarsh talks to her family and reveals how she juggled her roles

Friday, June 1
Elizabeth: Queen, Wife, Mother, ITV, 9pm
The Queen was just 25 and a young mother when she took the throne, Alan Titchmarsh talks to her family and reveals how she juggled her roles.

A Jubilee Tribute To The Queen By The Prince Of Wales, BBC1, 8pm
In a rare personal broadcast, Prince Charles pays tribute to his mother, with previously unseen footage.

Saturday, June 2
Racing From Epsom:  Derby Day, BBC1, 12.50pm
Clare Balding covers the day of the Queen’s visit.

Sunday, June 3
The Diamond Jubilee  Thames Pageant, BBC1, 1.30pm
Live coverage of the Pageant, including cameras on board the royal barge.

All The Queen’s Horses: A Diamond Jubilee Special, ITV, 6.30pm
Extravaganza presented by Alan Titchmarsh, in which more than 550 horses and 1,200 people perform to music.

Monday, June 4
Diamond Jubilee Concert, BBC1, 7.30pm
Buckingham Palace’s music festival. Followed by the lighting of the National Beacon at 10.30pm.

Tuesday, June 5
The Queen’s Diamond  Jubilee, ITV, 8.30am
Phillip Schofield and Julie Etchingham head ITV’s live Jubilee ceremonial day coverage.

Service Of Thanksgiving And Royal Procession,  BBC1, 9.15am
Huw Edwards and James Naughtie lead the BBC team.

BEACONS BLAZE THE WORLD OVER

When the Queen lights the National Beacon at 10.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday, she will complete a chain of more than 4,000 visible from space.

The tradition dates back to Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and has been embraced by everyone from national charities to parishes and schools.

Beacons will shine from Britain’s  four highest peaks: Ben Nevis, Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Northern Ireland’s Slieve Donard, while 60 will line  Hadrian’s Wall.

They will start in Commonwealth countries, with Tonga lighting the first at 10pm local time — 10am in the UK. From there a chain will take in Malta, where the Queen enjoyed her honeymoon,  and Kenya, where she learned of her father’s death.

At 10pm, the first will be lit in Britain in London, followed by thousands more. Finally, after the Palace pop concert, the Queen will light her beacon on the Mall by placing a diamond in a high-tech pod, which triggers the flame.

THE STREET PARTY HALF A MILE LONG

A total of 6,500 roads are to be closed to host street parties

A total of 6,500 roads are to be closed to host street parties (posed by models)

At least 10,000 street parties have been organised.

In Greenwich, the Old Royal Naval College has a table that can seat 800 people.

In Banbury, Oxfordshire, locals believe their table will be the country’s biggest and have been fundraising since November.

They have invited 1,000 primary school children and their families to eat food typical of the Fifties.

Residents of Goring-on-Thames in Oxfordshire have joined with their neighbours in Streatley, Berkshire, to organise a jubilee lunch spanning two counties, feeding almost 3,500 at 465 tables in a line stretching more than half a mile. When the clock strikes three, all guests will raise a glass in a ‘Mexican wave’ toast to Her Majesty.

A total of 6,500 roads are to be closed to host street parties ranging from the traditional — the National Trust is expecting to serve 200,000 cups of tea at its properties — to the unconventional.

In Preston, the Sikh Cultural Association has organised a vegetarian meal for 500.

LANDAUS OF HOPE AND GLORY

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during the Silver Jubilee, returning to Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during the Silver Jubilee, returning to Buckingham Palace

Queen Victoria held a Diamond Jubilee carriage procession from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral for a service of Thanksgiving in 1897.

But on arrival the elderly Queen felt so unwell she refused to leave her carriage and the service was held outside.

After her own Thanksgiving Service at St Paul’s on Bank Holiday Tuesday, followed by lunch in the Palace of Westminster, our Queen’s procession will start at 2.20pm.

The Royal Family, will leave the Palace of Westminster in open-topped carriages known as state landaus and make their way up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch and along the Mall to Buckingham Palace.

Military servicemen will line the route and the King’s troop will fire a 60-gun salute. The Royals will then appear on the palace balcony for an RAF Flypast, and a Feu de Joie — or rifle salute — in the palace forecourt by the Queen’s Guard.

The Queen will travel in the 1902 carriage the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used after their wedding. Should it rain, she will use the gilded Australian State Coach — the only royal carriage with heating.

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