How Marilyn Monroe ‘stealed’ Queen Elizabeth’s limelight with a sexy dress

In 1962, before Marilyn Monroe donned a shiny sheer dress to sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy, she wore the same shameful suit to the Queen.

It was 1956, and a 30-year-old Monroe was being filmed in London for the romantic comedy The Prince and the Showgirl, and was invited to perform as a royal conductor in the new film The Battle of the Rivers. plate,” and shook hands with Queen Elizabeth II.

But according to Michelle Morgan’s “when marilyn met the queen(Pegasus Books), Monroe now ignores officials’ pleas to dress conservatively. Instead, she opts for a slinky gold lamé gown, “so low-cut that it [her] Breasts are on full display. “

Cameras flashed, fans screamed and men stared. One attendee, singer Jane Morgan, scoffed, “Miss Monroe must have had a terrible inferiority complex to dress like this.”

Marilyn Monroe and author Arthur Miller.
Marilyn Monroe and author Arthur Miller.
Ulstein Images via Getty Images

But for Monroe, the event was the highlight of her dreary four months in England — otherwise, characterized by grueling filming, severe depression, the dissolution of her new production company and a drug overdose. The actress said meeting Her Majesty was “the biggest thrill”.

Monroe had high hopes for her trip. “The Prince and the Showgirl,” the star actress’ first film under the Marilyn Monroe Productions umbrella, began with her frustration with all the “dumb blonde” parts the studio had been giving her. She hand-picked renowned dramatist Lawrence Olivier as her director and co-star. She was looking forward to a honeymoon with her new husband, playwright Arthur Miller, a trip she brought.

Marilyn Monroe in the audience performing the play
Marilyn Monroe sat in the audience performing her husband Arthur Miller’s play “Landscape from the Bridge.”
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However, Olivier condescended to her – explaining to other theatrically-trained actors that Monroe’s approach to acting was “very different” and that “it took her a while to get used to the way they worked.”

Morgan writes that his “snobby attitude is shocking” [Monroe],” while the actress, known for her stage fright, would repeatedly mispronounce her lines, delay going to the set, and sometimes refuse to walk out of the dressing room. The servants at the estate where she lived with Miller sold stories about them to the press At one point, Monroe — addicted to sleeping pills and diet pills — was rushed to the hospital after a suspected overdose. (She missed filming for three days, but then went back to work.)

As an escape, Monroe fantasized about meeting Queen Elizabeth.

Marilyn Monroe kisses British actor Sir Laurence Olivier on the cheek as his wife Vivien Leigh (left) and Monroe's husband Arthur Miller (right) watch.
Marilyn Monroe kisses British actor Sir Laurence Olivier on the cheek as his wife Vivien Leigh (left) and Monroe’s husband Arthur Miller (right) watch.
PA image via Getty Images

The actress has adopted Her Majesty’s favorite brands, buying gloves from Cornelia James and even swapping her beloved Chanel No. 5 for the Queen’s favorite Yardley’s Lavender. “Her dream was to have tea at Buckingham Palace, a request that publicist Alan Arnold found on his daily to-do list,” Morgan wrote.

When she finally received an invitation to perform with the Royal Conductor, she used every spare time to practice curtsey and plan her attire – a very low-cut gold gown with spaghetti straps and a matching cape. On the day of the event, October 29, she wasn’t even on the set of her movie.

Marilyn Monroe gifted to Queen Elizabeth II at royal charity show
Marilyn Monroe was presented to Queen Elizabeth II during the “Battle of the River Plate” royal charity performance at the Empire Theatre in London.
Popperfoto via Getty Images

Instead, she got her hair and makeup done, and then, with the help of “a couple of staff,” squeezed into her custom sexy tinsel dress. She then donned long gloves and platform sandals, spritzed on perfume, and climbed into the car with her husband and her co-producer, Milton H. Green.

“When the driver stopped outside the Empire Theatre in London, it was as if the entire Briton had gathered outside,” Morgan wrote. Monroe “gives a big smile, then lifts her cape to reveal a gorgeous gown.” The photographers went nuts. She and Miller were joined by other celebrities – including Joan Crawford, Brigitte Bardot and Annika Eckberg – who lined up to greet the Queen.

Sir Lawrence and Lady Olivier meet Marilyn Monroe and her husband playwright Arthur Miller at London airport, who have arrived from New York.
Sir Lawrence and Lady Olivier meet Marilyn Monroe and her husband playwright Arthur Miller at London airport, who have arrived from New York.
PA image via Getty Images

Dressed in a “long black dress with a diamond and emerald tiara”, Elizabeth briefly looked Monroe “up and down” as the nervous actress took her hand in a curtsy. The pair “talked for a few minutes” about Monroe and Miller, who were cycling near Windsor Castle. Monroe then spoke with Princess Margaret about “biking, life in England and the making of ‘The Sleeping Prince'” before the Hollywood star urged the princess to go to London to see her husband’s new play ‘Landscape from the Bridge’. “The princess laughed and said she could,” Monroe recalled afterwards.

For Monroe, it was an unforgettable night. “The Queen was very enthusiastic,” Monroe told reporters. “She exudes sweetness.”

When Marilyn Met Queen Michelle Morgan
Queen Elizabeth reportedly said after their meeting that Monroe was “a very lovely person”.

While the media, royal officials and the rest of Monroe’s cast expressed disappointment that Monroe’s revealing gown stole the limelight from the Queen and her sister, Elizabeth herself didn’t seem to notice.

“I think Miss Monroe is a very lovely person,” Her Majesty told a friend. “But I feel bad for her because she was so nervous that she licked all her lipstick off.”