There could have been an iconic moment in history when The King met The Queen. On this day in 1962, Elvis Presley received a very special invitation from Her Majesty to come to the UK. As fans know, in the end the star only officially stepped foot on UK soil during a brief moment when his plane touched down to refuel at Prestwick airport, South Ayrshire in 1960 on his way home from military service in Germany. There are also rumours that he made another secret visit to London, but he certainly never met The Queen. Why? What happened?
Elvis was invited to join the all-star line-up at the 1962 Royal Variety Show. That year Bob Hope, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, and Eartha Kitt headlined.
It’s unlikely that The Queen actually picked up the phone herself, but the call was put through to Elvis’ management. And that is where the problem lay.
Apparently, Colonel Parker turned down the royal invitation flat. This will come as no surprise to Elvis fans, because his Svengali-like manager only let him leave the country very rarely, and then only to perform in Canada. It seems extraordinary that the biggest star in the world did not actually tour the world, but the received wisdom is that Dutch national Parker was an illegal alien in the US and did not want to risk leaving the country and not be permitted to return. Therefore he made sure Elvis was never booked to appear overseas.
However, Elvis did meet other European princesses and was also rumoured to have made a secret visit to London.
As for those rumours that Elvis actually did spend one crazy night zooming around London, they were a well-guarded secret that came to light decades later.
Theatre impresario and football enthusiast Bill Kenwright told BBC Radio 2 that The King did return to the UK, and was accompanied by star Sir Tommy Steele for a trip around London.
Bill said: “I remember him telling me about when Elvis came to England very quietly.
“Evidently Tommy got home one night and the phone rings. A voice says, ‘They tell me you’re good.’ Tommy says, ‘Who’s this?’
“’Elvis’ says the voice. ‘Get outta here’, says Tommy. ‘Are you as good as me?’ says Elvis… and they started this mock rivalry.
Apparently, the friendship resulted in Elvis making an overnight flying visit to the UK. He and Tommy then dashed all around London in a car with blacked-out windows.
Kenwright added: “It all came from that. It’s quite something isn’t it – the thought of them wandering around London together? But the impression I got was that they never got out of the car.”
This might have been dismissed an urban myth, but Steel himself was questioned about it and said: “I swore never to divulge publicly what happened.
“I can only hope he [Presley] can forgive me. It was an event shared by two young men sharing the same love of their music and the same thrill of achieving something unimaginable.”