Queen Elizabeth has met countless political leaders and important figures over her 70-year reign, but one of her most starry encounters is when she met the Queen of Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe.
In the summer of 1956, Monroe spent four months in the U.K. alongside her new husband Arthur Miller to shoot her latest film, The Prince and the Showgirl, co-starring Sir Laurence Olivier.
Upon her arrival, it was clear that Monroe had another objective during her visit: meeting the Queen.
The moment the two iconic women finally come face-to-face is explored in the new book, When Marilyn Met the Queen, out now. According to the book’s author, Michelle Morgan, Monroe’s fascination with the Queen grew throughout her stay in Englefield Green, which is just four miles from Windsor Castle.
“Her dream was to have tea at Buckingham Palace, and publicist Alan Arnold found the request on his daily to-do list,” she writes.
While she never sipped tea with Queen Elizabeth, Monroe did get her chance to meet her at the end of her trip on Oct. 29, 1956, when she was invited to attend the Royal Command Performance at the Empire Theatre in London’s Leicester Square alongside some of the most famous film stars of her time.
On the day of the Royal Command Performance (or “the Queen’s Show” as Monroe nicknamed it), Monroe spent hours getting ready. As Marilyn stepped out of her car in front of the theater later that evening, the cameras began snapping away as fans lining the street clamored to catch a glimpse of the American star.
Once inside the theater, Monroe joined the other actors in a receiving line as they awaited the Queen’s arrival.
“The line was long, and Marilyn was more than halfway down. At times the actress stared ahead, nervously waiting her turn, but as the Queen moved closer, Marilyn could be seen peeping out and then excitedly chattering to actor Victor Mature,” Morgan writes in the book.
Once the Queen reached Monroe, the monarch gave her a brief look up and down, according to Morgan. Monroe then took the Queen’s hand and dipped into the perfect curtsy.
The author writes, “The two then chatted for several minutes, and covered subjects including being neighbors and the Queen’s beloved Windsor. ‘We love it,’ Marilyn said. “As we have a permit my husband and I go for bicycle rides in the Great Park.”
Later that evening, Monroe was filled with excitement as she left the theater. As she approached her waiting car, reporters asked what she thought of the monarch.
“The Queen is very warm-hearted,” Marilyn said, according to When Marilyn Met the Queen. “She radiates sweetness. She asked how I liked living in Windsor, and I said, ‘What!’ And she said that as I lived in Englefield Green, near to Windsor, we were neighbors. So, I told her that Arthur and I went on bicycle rides in the park.”
As for what the Queen thought of the film star, an article that appeared in a U.K. magazine in 1961 detailed Her Majesty’s thoughts according to an unnamed “friend.”
“The article said that after the Royal Command Performance in 1956, the Queen became fascinated with Marilyn and watched every one of her movies,” Morgan writes. “She apparently told the friend, ‘I thought Miss Monroe was a very sweet person. But I felt sorry for her, because she was so nervous that she had licked all of her lipstick off.’ Footage of the event seems to back this up, since Marilyn can be seen licking her lips as she waited for the royal gusts to reach her.”