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Dame Shirley: A gong from the King is extra nerve-racking than singing

Dame Shirley Bassey is more nervous receiving an honour from King Charles than performing before him she said after a ceremony held at Windsor Castle

‘I forgot to curtsy,’ the Welsh singer, 87, joked, ‘I think it is more nerve-racking to receive an award from him than to sing in front of him’. 

Dame Shirley was made a Companion of Honour in the New Year Honours list for her services to music. 

This was the first time the singer whose sang in three James Bond films, has met Charles as King. 

‘I mean it is new, different, whereas singing I have been doing since I was child.’

Dame Shirley Bassey and King Charles at Windsor Castle where the singer was honoured

Dame Shirley Bassey and King Charles at Windsor Castle where the singer was honoured 

Dame Shirley with her Companion of Honour medal for her services to music.

Dame Shirley with her Companion of Honour medal for her services to music.

Dame Shirley and the Prince Charles of Wales laughing in 1978 at the Club Double Diamond in Caerphilly, south Wales.

Dame Shirley and the Prince Charles of Wales laughing in 1978 at the Club Double Diamond in Caerphilly, south Wales.

Dame Shirley attended the event wearing a sparkly black and white Isabell Kristensen dress which the monarch praised. 

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

‘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”.’ 

In 1999, Shirley became Dame Shirley in the honours lists and said: ‘I have had 70 years of glamorous moments. 

‘I think the first time I sang for the (late) Queen at the Royal Variety- my very first show (was my most glamorous). 

‘I did quite a few after that and was very blase about it.’  

But Dame Shirley was extremely gracious in accepting her honour today. 

She said: ‘Receiving the Order of the Companions of Honour is just one of the most wonderful feelings. Music has been a constant companion in my life.

Dame Shirley, with her daughter Sharon, her grandson Sebastian and his daughter Sofia at Windsor Castle.

Dame Shirley, with her daughter Sharon, her grandson Sebastian and his daughter Sofia at Windsor Castle.

Dame Shirley holds the King's hand as the pair share a few words during the honours ceremony

Dame Shirley holds the King’s hand as the pair share a few words during the honours ceremony

‘As a little girl growing up in Tiger Bay (Cardiff), I would dream of travelling the world and never imagined that one day my voice would take me to where I am now.

‘Entertaining audiences for over 70 years has been a privilege. My heart is full of emotion and I am truly humbled.’

Asked what it was like to be dubbed an icon, she 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.’

Dame Shirley was also asked if she had a favourite diva and at first thought to say Ella Fitzgerald but admitted: ‘She wasn’t a diva, she was so nice. Feet on the ground, she was so comfy, nothing diva-ish about her.’

Instead, she concluded that Madonna took the crown for her. 

But Dame Shirley has expensive tastes too for her go to room service order of choice is ‘pink champagne and caviar.’

‘That would be my last meal,’ she joked. 

And in case anyone was in any doubt about her taste, asked what she would be if she were an accessory, she answered simply: ‘A diamond’.  

Also being honoured on Tuesday is Surrey and England cricketer Sam Curran, who was made an MBE in the 2023 Birthday Honours.

Part of the England team that won the 2022 T20 World Cup, the 26-year-old took the most wickets for England that year and was named Player of the Tournament.

Scottish-born celebrity chef Adam Handling will also visit Windsor to be made an MBE for services to hospitality and international trade.

Handling won the BBC series Great British Menu in 2023 and was a finalist on MasterChef: The Professionals in 2013.