Could the British Queen Elizabeth II and the American starlet Marilyn Monroe have been captured in one photo? Unbelievable as it sounds… yes, that happened! The historic meeting of monarch and movie star did take place. The beloved Hollywood actress not only met the British ruler, but also exchanged a few words with her.
How did their meeting go? And why did it almost end up in a scandal?
Today, when looking at the joint photo of Queen Elizabeth II with Marilyn Monroe, many people do not realize that both ladies… were of the same age. The monarch and the actress were peers – both mere 30 years old! Did you know about it?
Here are the surprising details of Marilyn Monroe’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth II.
Same Age, Different Lives
Many forget that the sex bomb, who died at the age of 36 and the queen, who passed away in September 8, 2022 at the age of 96, were the same age.
The Queen was born on April 21, 1926, in Mayfair, London, as Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). She enjoyed privileged upbringing and private education.
Just a few weeks later, on June 1, 1926, Norma Jeane Mortenson, the future Marilyn Monroe, started her difficult life in the USA. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Monroe spent most of her childhood either in foster homes, an orphanage or short stays with her mentally unstable mother. She may have been sexually abused as a foster child.
In 1942, just after her 16th birthday, Norma Jeane married her neighbors’ 21-year-old son, factory worker James Dougherty. The marriage did not last. She was working in a factory during World War II when she met a photographer and began a successful pin-up modeling career. After a series of minor film roles, she signed a contract with Fox in 1950. Over the next two years, Marilyn Monroe became a popular actress with roles in several comedies. She faced a scandal when her teenage nude photographs reappeared, but the story did not damage her acting career and instead resulted in increased interest in her films.
By 1953, Monroe was one of the most marketable Hollywood stars; she had leading roles in the film noir “Niagara”, which overtly relied on her sex appeal, and the comedies “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “How to Marry a Millionaire”, which established her star image as a “dumb blonde”. The movie “The Seven Year Itch” (1955) became one of the biggest box office successes of her career.
Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth II – Why Did They Meet?
At the same time when the blond actress was becoming the brightest star in Hollywood, the young princess began her reign in Great Britain as Queen Elizabeth II. She ascended the throne in 1952, winning Time’s “Person of the Year” title. Shortly afterwards Marilyn was titled “the first Playboy Bunny” – her photo appeared on the front page of the historic first issue of Playboy magazine, which began to be published in 1953.
Both women were of the same age, but their paths hardly had a chance to cross. After all, the Queen resided at Buckingham Palace, London, and the American actress did not travel much.
In 1955, at one of Hollywood movie premieres, Marilyn Monroe was introduced to playwright Arthur Miller. Their meeting ignited a feeling that led them to the altar. The wedding of a movie star and successful screenwriter took place on June 29, 1956. With the marriage, Monroe converted to Judaism, which led several Muslim countries to ban all of her films. Due to Monroe’s status as a sex symbol and Miller’s image as an intellectual, the media saw the union as a mismatch, as evidenced by Variety’s headline, “Egghead Weds Hourglass”.
The newlyweds left for London shortly after the intimate ceremony. This is where the actress shot her next film “The Prince and the Showgirl” and her husband received an invitation to a gala premiere of a movie. Sounds like nothing much, right? However, this gala was different, because the young Queen Elizabeth II was to attend it, personally greeting distinguished guests from the world of cinema, such as Joan Crawfort, Brigitte Bardott, and Arthur Miller. Although Marilyn Monroe was not invited to meet the monarch, she forced her husband to appear at the event and take her as his “plus one”.
Officials may have instructed participants to dress conservatively, but the gown Marilyn had chosen to meet Queen Elizabeth II looked nothing like what they had in mind. Before the event, due to the expected presence of Her Majesty, all guests were sent a message asking them to appear at the gala in “appropriate outfit”. The American actress either misunderstood or ignored this request – and came into the theater wearing a low-cut dress.
The only reason the door security did not throw her out for breach of protocol, was because she was wrapped in a golden cape at first.
However, she soon ran to the bathroom and took it off.
When on October 29, 1956, the stars waited in line at the Empire Theater to meet the queen, Marilyn Monroe… was taking her time in the toilet, fixing her makeup. Rumor has it that she came across a young French actress Brigitte Bardot there, who was in shock, seeing the revealing dress. While all men and women were dressed in elegant and subdued outfits, Marilyn opted for an extremely low-cut gown that emphasized her busts. Made of gold trim, it was cut so low that Marilyn’s breasts were fully visible.
At the last moment, Marilyn Monroe appeared in the lane of stars greeted in turn by Queen Elizabeth II. The golden dress with an enormous neckline, strongly exposing her prominent chest, made everyone’s eyes turn to her, and not to the Queen. When the monarch stood in front of the Hollywood sex bomb, Monroe bowed in accordance with the current etiquette and her breasts almost escaped from her dress. That would have been a spectacular, historical slip-up! Luckily for Monroe, such a scandal did not happen.
Pictures from that moment – when the queen of cinema met the Queen of Great Britain – went down in history, but also became headlines of international newspapers. The outfit of Marilyn Monroe in which she met the British Queen sparked a lot of comment about her impropriety.
Their Later Lives
Fortunately, there was no scandal. After a short presentation, the two 30-year-olds exchanged a handshake and also a few words.
Interestingly, the queen herself did not seem to mind the “inappropriate dress”. When asked later about the meeting with the movie star, she replied: “Miss Monroe was lovely. But I felt sorry for her, because she was so nervous that she licked off all her lipstick.”
Marilyn admitted that the meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at the Empire Theater in London in 1956 was the most pleasant moment in her life. Back then she did not know that her life would end only six years later.
Monroe’s first independent production in “The Prince and the Showgirl” (1957) was more of a success in Europe than in the US. But in 1959 she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in “Some Like It Hot”, a critical and commercial success. Her last completed film was the drama “The Misfits” (1961).
Monroe’s troubled private life received much media attention. She struggled with pill addiction and mental health problems. Her highly publicized marriages to a baseball star Joe DiMaggio and to playwright Arthur Miller both ended in divorce. On August 4, 1962, she died at age 36 from an overdose of barbiturates at her Los Angeles home. Her death was ruled a probable suicide, although some people still believe she was murdered because of her love affair with president Kennedy.
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain lived for more than a third of the entire age of the United States (1776) – a nation which is only 246 years old. And well over half the age of Canada (1867), and all but 25 years of the nation of Australia (1901).
She sat on the British throne from 1952 and was one of the longest reigning heads of state in history. She became Queen at the age of just 25, when Stalin and Truman were also
in post, just 7 years after the end of WWII. She ruled for 70 years at the age of 96, more than 35 years after the age at which most people retire. Her reign is over 7% of the entire history of Britain since William the Conqueror took the crown – 956 years ago – with 41 monarchs in-between.
The Queen died peacefully in her summer residence in Scotland – on September 8 at the age of 96 – almost exactly 60 years after Marilyn Monroe.