In 2016, the Queen was canvassed for her favourite music to mark her 90th birthday, and her selections felt like those of a regular British nonagenarian: show tunes from Oklahoma!, Fred Astaire’s Cheek to Cheek, plus hymns, military marches – and Gary Barlow.
These cheerfully middlebrow tastes are well catered for in Saturday evening’s Platinum Party at the Palace, a three-hour live music spectacular held on stages in front of Buckingham Palace and screened on BBC One from 7.30pm after the jubilee pageant through Whitehall and the Mall.
Prince Charles and Prince William will speak at the event. The world’s two biggest names in musical theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lin-Manuel Miranda, will perform, as will the casts from The Phantom of the Opera, Hamilton, Six, The Lion King, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Also appearing will be the tenor Andrea Bocelli, the Royal Ballet, and an 86-year-old Julie Andrews.
The Queen might be rather less familiar with some of the acts in a section titled 70 Years of Pop Music: the show’s producers bring this right up to date with pop-dance names such as Mabel and Jax Jones, and the appearance of the lascivious, formidably talented British rapper Stefflon Don raises the prospect of someone explaining twerking to a baffled-but-hopefully-impressed head of state. You could, however, imagine her asking a footman (or Alexa) to add Celeste to the royal playlist – the young British soul singer has a timelessly powerful voice.
Despite a gleefully indiscreet passage in Elton John’s memoir in which he describes seeing the Queen playfully take a viscount to task – “Don’t – slap – argue – slap – with – slap – me – slap – I – slap – am – slap – the Queen!” – the rocket man has been invited back and has pre-recorded a special performance, while the Eurovision runner-up Sam Ryder will sing live. Ryder’s voice, a blast of pure talent and good nature, is the classic stuff of Royal Variety Performances, as is the wholegrain, vitamin-enriched George Ezra and the uplifting, heartfelt Alicia Keys and Elbow.
Duran Duran will seem naughty in comparison but age has given their horny 80s capers a certain statesmanlike air, just as it has Rod Stewart, also performing here. The exact running order isn’t yet announced but a nice bit of sequencing would be Duran Duran bridged to the night’s final act, Diana Ross, by another strong royal booking, Nile Rodgers, who gave both artists career boosts with his slippery yet taut disco guitar lines.
Around the music will be sections celebrating British and Commonwealth successes in sport, the environment and fashion, with Davids Attenborough and Beckham cropping up alongside Emma Raducanu and Ellie Simmonds. Perhaps the night’s biggest moment, though, could be its first.
Queen, with longtime frontman Adam Lambert, might be a nominative-determinist booking, but they are still the group who most strongly evoke the pomp and pageantry of the royals. Once, theirs was an aesthetic touched with irony and peacock arrogance – remember Freddie Mercury wearing a giant crown and ermine robes for their 1986 Wembley gigs? – but now feels part of the establishment, particularly after Brian May played God Save the Queen from the roof of Buckingham Palace for the golden jubilee 20 years ago. He has hinted at outdoing that moment – “After Buckingham Palace roof where can you go? Well … you will see!” – and it will surely fall to him to play the national anthem. The Queen might have preferred Gary Barlow singing it, mind.
• This article was corrected on 4 June 2022. A previous version said Prince Harry was due to speak at the event, rather than Prince William.