SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


Entertainment fit for a King or Queen: The Royal Variety Performance

Dating back to 1912, the Royal Variety Performance has seen an outstanding 87 spectacular shows.

King George V and Queen Mary first agreed to attend a ‘Royal Command Performance’ which was to take place at the Palace Theatre in London. The performance supported the Variety Artistes’ Benevolent Fund (the previous name of the Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent Fund). The fund’s plan was to build an extension to its home for elderly entertainers, Brinsworth House.

The next show was not until July 1919 following The Great War and was the first “Royal Variety Performance”. Themed as a ‘celebration of peace’ the show was held at London’s Coliseum. The official announcement noted that it: “had been commanded by the King to show his appreciation of the generous manner in which artistes of the variety stage had helped the numerous funds connected with the war”.

1955 saw two Royal Variety Performances taking place in London and Blackpool, George Formby and Morecambe & Wise were some of the performers.

Each year the Royal Variety Performance changes venues taking place in a different UK theatre. The Queen and The Prince of Wales have been known to attend the performances in alternate years. Other senior members of the Royal Family, such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have stood in their place.

Any proceeds from the evening are donated to The Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent Fund. The fund provides care for hundreds of entertainers within the UK with help and assistance as they age, fall into ill-health or hard times. The Brinsworth House in Twickenham was built with the assistance of the proceeds of the first ‘Royal Command Performance’ and is the Fund’s nursing home, taking care of the elderly members of the entertainment profession.

Just some of the performers who have taken place in the legendary shows range from Sir Edward Elgar and Luciano Pavarotti to Take That and The Beatles. Recent performances included Lady Gaga and Bette Midler. The list is quite extensive and legendary to name everyone in this article!

No doubt that the Royal Variety Performance 2015 will bring another spectacular show and all for a great cause! But just which royals will be in attendance this year? Watch this space!

Photo Credit: Tamara Craiu via Flickr