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Andrew Lloyd Webber: Paying respects to Queen at Palace ‘was least I could do’

The Queen meets Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber – now Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber – in 2012 (Dave Thompson/PA)
The Queen meets Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber – now Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber – in 2012 (Dave Thompson/PA)

Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he “diverted” his journey to lay flowers outside Buckingham Palace to pay his respects to the Queen on Thursday, adding: “It was absolutely the right thing to do.”

The composer was travelling to Her Majesty’s Theatre in London on Thursday when it was announced the Queen had died at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle.

Speaking about paying his respects to the monarch, the 74-year-old told BBC Breakfast: “It was only a few weeks before that I was standing on the stage outside the railings of Buckingham Palace for the jubilee concert.

“Having had the luck and joy and privilege of knowing Her Majesty a little over the last 20 to 30 years, I thought it was the least I could do.

“I was ironically on my way to Her Majesty’s Theatre, which will now of course be His Majesty’s Theatre, but I diverted and my wife and I and our daughter all met outside the gates.

“I just thought it was absolutely the right thing to do. She was the most extraordinary person and we will never see the like again.

Theatre – Starlight Express Gala Performance – Apollo Theatre, London
The Queen and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber at the Apollo Theatre, Victoria, London, in 1984 (Ron Bell/PA)

“One of the things she represents to our generation is stability. She just represented a force for the good which was really, really extraordinary.

“We all know how passionately she believed in the Commonwealth and I think that speaks volumes about what she really represented to people right over the world.”

In 2012, Lloyd Webber and Take That’s Gary Barlow composed the Queen’s official Diamond Jubilee single, Sing.

GQ Men Of The Year Awards – London
Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Gary Barlow (Ian West/PA)

Sharing an anecdote about the Queen visiting his home in Berkshire to listen to the song, he said: “She was in the Newbury area where I live, one of her great joys was going to Newbury racecourse where I had met her several times.

“It was arranged that she would come round and hear the song with Gary and myself and a choir we put together of equestrian people, racing trainers and jockeys.

“It was great fun, we had a lovely evening and we also played a couple of songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein era because she loved the musicals when she was in her teens, it was a magic evening.”

Lloyd Webber said he could not put into words how “extraordinary” the Queen was but said “I am just so lucky to have met her just a very few times”.

Buckingham Palace reception for the Dramatic Arts
The Queen meets Andrew Lloyd Webber at Buckingham Palace in 2014 (David Crumb/Daily Mail/PA)

He added: “Particularly when I was lucky enough to see her off duty, she was so warm and so wonderful.

“She came round once to our house and you know what the children did, it was so naughty of them and they were old enough to know better, but they put football shirts outside the windows as she was coming past and the Queen said, ‘Do you normally put your washing outside of the window?’

“She had this extraordinary way of putting people at ease.”