Ed Sheeran reveals why Queen Elizabeth II was smiling in their photo together

The singer first met the late monarch when he performed at her Diamond Jubilee in 2012

Meredith Clark
New York
Monday 17 October 2022 13:51 BST
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Ed Sheeran sings ‘Perfect’ at Jubilee Pageant as Queen’s life moments show on screen

Ed Sheeran has revealed the true story behind the smiling photograph of himself meeting the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The “Shape of You” singer recalled meeting the Queen for the first time during a recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The viral photograph, which shows the British monarch shaking hands with Sheeran and smiling, was captured during her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

“This is a fun picture because she was smiling when she met me. That was really, really early stages of my career. I had released, like, one hit single and I was playing her jubilee,” Sheeran told late night host Colbert.

“But I was next to a really famous comedian who cracked a joke while she was shaking my hand, so I have this picture of her delighted to see me,” he explained. The 31-year-old singer recalled how the Queen did not have much of a reaction to meeting the singer, considering he was not as famous as he is today.

“I remember Kylie [Minogue] – who was taking the Queen over to me – being like: ‘This is Ed Sheeran,’ and the Queen being like,” he said, as he mimicked the monarch’s confused expression. But when the comedian standing next to him made a joke, it elicited a hilarious reaction from the Queen that lives on in the image. “And that’s the picture,” the singer said.

His performance at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert 10 years ago – where he played his first single “The A Team” – was a full circle moment for him, as he told Colbert that her previous jubilee in 2002 inspired him to be a musician. Sheeran was just 11 years old when he watched Eric Clapton perform “Layla” at the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and decided to pick up the guitar.

“Eric Clapton comes on, does the first opening bit of ‘Layla’. I’m like: ‘What is that?’” Sheeran recalled. “He finishes the song and I knew in that instant, I was like, I want to be that. I want to have a guitar and I want to sing on stage.”

The “Perfect” singer was then mind-blown that 10 years later, he ended up performing on the same stage, and once more at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee concert this year. “It’s bonkers,” he said.

In June, Sheeran closed out the Platinum Jubilee Pageant – which celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years as monarch – with an emotional rendition of his hit song, “Perfect”. As the pop star sang the romantic ballad while playing the guitar, a montage of clips throughout the Queen’s reign played on a large screen. The song was also chosen as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was featured in the video footage.

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