UK

Bassey says receiving honour from King more nerve-racking than singing for him

The Welsh singer, 87, was made a Companion of Honour in the New Year Honours list.

Dame Shirley Bassey after being made a Companion of Honour
Dame Shirley Bassey after being made a Companion of Honour (Aaron Chown/PA)

Dame Shirley Bassey has said she was more nervous receiving an honour from the King than singing for him as she picked up her latest royal award at Windsor Castle.

The Welsh singer, 87, was made a Companion of Honour in the New Year Honours list for her services to music, having become a dame in the 1999 honours list.

After receiving the award on Tuesday, Dame Shirley said it was her first time meeting Charles as King.

She said: “I think it’s more nerve-racking to receive the award from him than to sing in front of him. I mean, it’s new, different, whereas singing I’ve been doing since I was a child.

“I forgot to curtsy, but that’s why I grabbed his hands because I forgot to curtsy. Instinctive.”

Dame Shirley Bassey said the King complimented her on her dress
Dame Shirley Bassey said the King complimented her on her dress (Jonathan Brady/PA)

She said Charles had complimented her on her outfit, a sparkly black and white Isabell Kristensen dress.

“I asked him how he was, and he said he was fine and said: ‘You look wonderful,'” she said.

“He wished me all the best and then I grabbed him – I know I shouldn’t have done that. But I grabbed both his hands and said: ‘I wish you well.’”

Asked what it was like to be dubbed an icon, Dame Shirley said: “It can be very nice, and it can be very isolating and a nuisance – especially if you’re in a restaurant and people come and sit at your table uninvited.”

She said the most glamorous moment of her life was the first time she sang for the late Queen at the Royal Variety Performance.

“I’ve had 70 years of glamorous moments,” she said.

“I think the first time I sang for the Queen at the Royal Variety – my very first show. And then I did quite a few after and was very blase about it.”

Dame Shirley Bassey, with her daughter Sharon, her grandson Sebastian and his daughter Sofia
Dame Shirley Bassey, with her daughter Sharon, her grandson Sebastian and his daughter Sofia (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Asked about her favourite diva of all time, Dame Shirley said it was Madonna.

She said: “I’d love to say Ella Fitzgerald, but she wasn’t a diva, she was so nice. Feet on the ground, she was so comfy, nothing diva-ish about her. Who was a diva? I’d have to say Madonna.

“I didn’t meet Maria Callas – I think she was an original diva. I would have loved to have met her. I loved her voice.”

She said her room service order of choice is “pink champagne and caviar”.

“That would be my last meal. Caviar and pink champagne.”

And if she were an accessory, she would be a diamond, she added.

“Diamonds – diamonds are forever. I say diamonds because my birthstone is so horrible. It’s a bloodstone, January. It couldn’t even be ruby.”