She had declared the venue officially open and the name of her consort is over the door, so there was little argument as to who would have top billing when Britain’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame was unveiled yesterday.
Queen Victoria was the honoree of the first of 11 paving stones marking the 150th anniversary of the Royal Albert Hall. Also on a bill which was nothing if not varied were the boxer Muhammad Ali, the rock stars Roger Daltrey and Eric Clapton, and the singers Shirley Bassey and Adele.
Each of the stones, to be laid around the central London venue, bears a dedication and is decorated with a brass star, to commemorate someone who has held an audience of one sort of other in rapture there. More will be added in the coming years.
The first batch includes one paying tribute to the suffragette movement, which held 25 rallies at the hall between 1908 and 1918. Further recipients are Sir Winston Churchill, who made 16 speeches there between 1911 and 1959, and Albert Einstein, who spoke about his fears for Europe, shortly before Hitler’s election.
“We’re not just a venue for classical music. Adele has played here. These are icons,” said Craig Hassall, its chief executive.
Randolph Churchill, great grandson of the former Prime Minister, was at yesterday’s unveiling, and said: “I am very pleased that the connection between Sir Winston and this hall is being maintained.”
Daltrey, whose band, The Who, was briefly barred in 1969 after an altercation with fellow rocker Chuck Berry, has since returned to host concerts for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
A blanket ban on rock events was briefly enforced in 1972 following a series of shows considered “too rowdy” for the surroundings. Clapton claims the record for appearances since then, with some 200 under his belt – around four times as many as Dame Shirley.