Queen Likes DJs at the Palace But Makes Them Play the National Anthem

Queen Elizabeth II is partial to having DJs play at Buckingham Palace parties but goes to bed early because "she's a bit old for dancing," according to British music producer William Orbit.

In the years before the COVID pandemic, the queen would hold annual staff parties at Buckingham Palace where members of her household and workers from the various royal estates would gather in the historic ballroom where invited musical guests would sometimes perform.

Orbit's comments come as the queen is due to return to London from her holiday in Scotland to swear in Britain's new prime minister. The current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has agreed to make way for a successor currently being voted on by Conservative party members.

At one Buckingham Palace party, Orbit, who is a renowned British DJ and Grammy-winning music producer who has worked with Madonna, Blur and Britney Spears, was asked to provide the evening musical entertainment in the presence of the monarch, he told the Daily Mail.

Queen Elizabeth II an Buckingham Palace DJ
Above, Queen Elizabeth II is photographed at Windsor Castle on April 28, 2022. DJ and Grammy-winning music producer William Orbit said the queen was “evidently fascinated” when he played at Buckingham palace. Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The queen, Orbit said, was "evidently fascinated" as he worked through his set in the ballroom built for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1855.

"She's lovely. She always chats to you. She's so beautiful and charismatic. We had a nice chat about DJing," he recounted, though conceded that the queen "goes to bed at nine because she's a bit old for dancing—then everyone starts going nuts."

Despite the juxtaposition between the historic interior of Buckingham Palace and an up-to-the-minute DJ set performed by a world-renowned music producer, Orbit explained that he had to make one important concession to his setlist which was to include the national anthem "God Save The Queen" at the very end.

"At the end, I had my own butler," Orbit told Daily Mail. "He says: 'Mr. Orbit, sir, I'm going to give you this CD of the National Anthem, and when you play that, on my signal, the party's over.'"

He added: "Because the Queen is in the house, you play the whole thing and the flag rises. But when she's not there they only play half it."

News of the queen's unexpected choice of musical guests follows a recent interview given by her first cousin-by-marriage, the retired Duchess of Kent, in which she described her fondness for beatboxing and rap music.

Katherine, Duchess of Kent was a working royal from her marriage to the queen's cousin the Duke of Kent in 1961 to her retirement in 2002. She did so with the blessing of the queen and continued with a career as a music teacher at a primary school in the English town of Hull for thirteen years.

William Orbit and Duchess of Kent
Above, William Orbit (L) is photographed April 27, 2012. The Duchess of Kent (R) is photographed above on April 29, 2011. Orbit has spoken of his interactions with Queen Elizabeth II while performing a DJ set at Buckingham Palace. The Duchess of Kent said in a recent interview she enjoyed listening to rappers Eminem and Ice Cube. Victor Fraile/Getty Images/Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph earlier this month, the duchess said she enjoyed listening to rappers Eminem and Ice Cube. When asked if she'd listen to "thrash metal" the 89-year-old responded from her home at Kensington Palace:

"I'd give it a go but possibly not for long. My husband likes music but very serious music. I'll listen to anything. I even like beat boxing."

Orbit is not the first modern musican to be asked to perform at the palace. In 2011 when Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, singer Ellie Goulding performed at the couple's reception held in the palace ballroom.

At a gala reception before the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981, the pop-band Hot Chocolate played in the ballroom while a disco run by The Sound of Class was set up in the palace music room.

Since the COVID pandemic, the queen has moved away from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle where owing to what has officially been called "episodic mobility problems," she now bases the majority of her public appearances.

The last major musical activity to take place at Buckingham Palace was a special Platinum Party at the Palace pop concert staged to celebrate the 96-year-old queen's Platinum Jubilee in June.

Though the queen herself did not attend owing to "discomfort" suffered on the first day of the jubilee weekend, members of the royal family including William and Kate, Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall gathered to watch tributes from Alicia Keys, Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney.

Newsweek reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment.

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