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The Duke of Edinburgh, First Lady Jackie Kennedy, the queen and President JFK in 1961

8 surprising famous people who met the queen

President and First Lady visit Buckingham Palace, John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, 1961 | Image: Public Domain

Queen Elizabeth II was the longest-reigning British monarch in history, reigning for 70 years. 80% of her subjects weren't even born when she was coronated in 1953. During that time, she met countless dignitaries and celebrities from across the globe. For every politician and world leader that you might expect to see, there are just as many bizarre encounters that you would never have predicted. Here are eight famous people that you might not have expected to meet the queen during her reign.

1. Marilyn Monroe

In 1956, Queen Elizabeth II met Marilyn Monroe at the Royal Film Performance of The Battle of the River Plate. The pair were only a few months apart in age and Her Majesty was reported to have been a big fan of Marilyn and watched every single one of her films. When asked about her encounter with the star, Elizabeth described her as a very sweet person.

2. Frank Sinatra

The highly successful singer and actor met Her Royal Highness at a party thrown by Nancy Regan. The shindig, held in Queen Elizabeth II’s honour, might have been Sinatra’s first time meeting the Queen of England; however, he had already met Elizabeth in 1951 before she had ascended the throne.

3. JFK and Jackie

It’s not surprising that the Queen should meet the equivalent of American royalty. In fact, she’s met 13 of the 14 living presidents - the only exception being Lyndon B. Johnson who stepped in as president following John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

However, Her Royal Highness’ encounter with Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, certainly left an impression. The First Lady was later said to have openly commented about how Buckingham Palace was outdated, and that the Queen's style didn’t measure up to her standards of chic couture. Gore Vidal even quoted Jackie describing the queen as ‘heavy going’.

4. Michelle Obama

Unlike one of her predecessors, First Lady Michelle Obama left an altogether different impression on the Royal household when she broke protocol and hugged the Queen! Following a day full of royal engagements and handshaking, Michelle reported that she and the Queen had just agreed that they were tired of wearing high heels. Not knowing that there was staunch Royal protocol, Michelle put her arm around the Queen to show natural connection and solidarity with the monarch.

5. The Beatles

When performing for the Queen in 1963, John Lennon cheekily sang ‘just rattle your jewellery’ to Elizabeth while singing Twist and Shout. The band’s antics didn’t end there, though. When they received MBEs just two years later, it was rumoured that the foursome had been high on marijuana at the time.

6. Charlie Chaplin

The silent film star took early Hollywood by storm with his iconic moustache, top hat, and groundbreaking stunts. In 1975 he was knighted for his services to the film industry. At the age of 86, the South-London film star made the way from his home in Switzerland to receive the accolade from the Queen. She was said to have left him dumbfounded and spent extra time with him to thank him for his work after the ceremony.

7. Madonna

When the Queen of Pop met the Queen of England, things didn’t go exactly to plan. At least, not for Madonna anyway. Meeting at the premiere of the Bond film Die Another Day (for which Madonna wrote the theme song), the singer was surprised to find that Her Royal Highness had no idea who she was. When informed that Madonna had performed the opening song of the film, the Queen replied simply, ‘Oh really, did you?’

8. 007

Having met several of the previous actors who portrayed Britain's beloved super-spy, like Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan, Elizabeth met the man himself while appearing alongside Daniel Craig during the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics. As a matter of national security, Her Royal Highness was escorted by James Bond to the event via helicopter, and both parachuted into the stadium (although we suspect the monarch may have used a stunt double).