The first foundation stone of London’s premier live entertainment venue was laid by Queen Victoria in 1867. Fast forward a couple of centuries, and thousands of spellbinding performances, charity galas and live music events have been enjoyed inside the Royal Albert Hall, a valued partner of Red Carnation Hotels. With the Hall’s 150th anniversary approaching, 11 stone plaques, each studded with a brass star, have been hung around its perimeter to recognise key players in its history. Here, we discover who the Royal Albert Stars are, and how chosen icons, such as Adele and Roger Daltrey, have responded.
It’s fitting that Queen Victoria, who opened the Hall in memory of her beloved Albert, is awarded the first Star, followed by heroic women’s rights activists, the Suffragettes, who conducted important meetings at the Hall between 1908 and 1918. Albert Einstein’s campaign for global peace and freedom at the Royal Albert Hall in 1933 is deemed Star-worthy, too, as are Winston Churchill’s rousing speeches, delivered at the Hall on 16 occasions from 1911 to 1959. Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, reacts:
“My great-grandfather and the Royal Albert Hall’s paths crossed many times, when Churchill used the Hall as a high-profile platform for his oratory. Long may Churchill and the Royal Albert Hall continue to make history together.”
Despite The Who being infamously banned from the venue after their debut in 1969 resulted in a slew of riotous shows from the likes of Frank Zappa, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd, lead singer Roger Daltrey is awarded a Star, owing to his work as initiator of the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts. Daltrey’s thoughts?
“The Who and I have come a long way since being banned from the Hall! This star symbolises how much we have achieved for young people with cancer over the years and I would like to thank all the artists who have been there for me and the charity since we started.”
Other musicians that the Royal Albert Hall commemorates are Eric Clapton, who has performed in the Hall more than 200 times, and Welsh singer Dame Shirley Bassey, electrifying audiences on more than 45 occasions. National treasure Adele receives a Star for her record-breaking live album and DVD Live at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. This is what the Star means to Adele:
“The Royal Albert Hall holds a very special place in my heart, not only because of my own show there but also because it's my favourite venue in the world and I've seen some really special performances there. To be recognised by such an iconic landmark amongst this list of people, some of whom changed the world, is overwhelming, but I'm immensely proud and grateful.”
Regarded as the world’s greatest classical music festival, the BBC Proms – conducted in the Hall since 1941 – and the notorious Chelsea Arts Club Ball are also honoured. The private members club hosted spectacularly lavish and scandalous New Year’s Eve parties at the Hall between 1910 and 1958.
Finally, the world-famous boxer who fought in the Hall three times during the 1970s, Muhammad Ali, is remembered. Lonnie Ali, widow of Muhammad, declares:
“What a thrill it is to learn that Muhammad is being awarded an inaugural Royal Albert Hall Star! Muhammad would have been so proud. He loved England and the English people. He especially loved the city of London.”
Enjoy the Royal Albert Hall’s thrilling programme of events when staying at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Milestone Hotel & Residences, mere moments from the legendary venue.
Image credits: lead image © Chris Christodoulou. Eric Clapton on stage © Christie Goodwin. All other images © Royal Albert Hall.