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British Royals

When the Queen of Soul met the Queen Mother

Stories about the late Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, are pouring in in the aftermath of her death last Thursday, including one by her ex-husband about the time she was introduced to the Queen Mother and members of the Royal Family.

Glynn Turman, Aretha’s ex-husband, appeared on Good Morning Britain and told the hosts about the time Sammy Davis Jr. introduced her to royalty.

“It meant a lot to her and all of us,” Turman said. “The great [singer] Sammy Davis Jr. introduced her to the Queen Mother in a way that was spectacular and I never forgot it.

“As gracious as the Queen Mother was, you know, Princess Diana was there and Prince Charles, Sammy suddenly said, ‘But we also have royalty in America.’

“[He said] ‘We have the Duke of Ellington, the Count of Bassey, and ladies and gentlemen I bring you the Queen of Soul.’”

Aretha performed for Queen Elizabeth at a show at Royal Albert Hall in 1980 and appeared on a special compilation album that included the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Queen, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston and was released in 1997 to raise funds for the Princess Diana Memorial Fund. Her contribution was a popular hymn called “I’ll Fly Away.”

Aretha died at her home in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of 76 after suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer. Turman, who was at her bedside when she died, said that she was “a strong woman to the very end.”

Her career spanned decades and she performed for presidents, royals, and the biggest names around the world. Her funeral will be held in Detroit on 31 August and open only to invited friends and family, though a public viewing will take place in the days before.

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About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.