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Sunday, 31 March, 2002, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Dame Vera's tribute to Queen Mother
The Queen Mother toured bombed cities during WWII
The Queen Mother toured bombed cities during WWII
Wartime singer Dame Vera Lynn has remembered how the Queen Mother helped lift the spirit of the UK during World War II.

Dame Vera, known as the "forces' sweetheart" after becoming a pin-up for troops and singing wartime anthems like We'll Meet Again, met the Queen Mother during the war and many times afterwards.

Dame Vera Lynn says the Queen Mother was
Dame Vera Lynn says the Queen Mother was "so special"
She paid tribute to the way the Queen Mother helped pull the nation together with a "friendly, warm" style that meant she could connect with normal people.

Dame Vera took part in the Queen Mother's 100th birthday parade and had been one of those to send messages of support when she was ill last year.

"I think what was so special about her was that she really loved people," she said on Sunday.

"She loved being with people and this meant a lot to her and she was such a friendly, warm personality.

"She treated everyone as an individual and not as a crowd. She spoke to you and she wasn't interested in anybody else around, her. This warmth came out."

She said people during the war had a great respect for "that lovely family feeling" she had about her.

'Courage'

Many people will remember the way she mingled with the people during the Blitz and stayed in the UK when she could have gone abroad, Dame Vera said.

"I think this endeared her to everybody and it gave them a lot of courage and felt that they were at one with the royal family.

"It helped them a great deal to think that they had this togetherness."

The Queen Mother with Pavarotti
The Queen Mother was a fan of opera and the arts
The Queen Mother was a fan of music as well as ballet, opera, theatre and poetry.

She enjoyed musicals including The Sound Of Music and Oklahoma, singers like Russ Conway and composers including Puccini and Verdi.

She was said to have passed on her love of classical music to Prince Charles, and said that the work of songwriter and playwright Sir Noel Coward gave her "immense pleasure".

She also saw many performances by the most popular stars down the years at Royal Variety Performances.

One such show in the 1960s saw her save a young Tommy Steele from embarrassment when he played a rock and roll song before the style was widely accepted.

The crowd failed to applaud, and Steele shouted: "Would you mind clapping just to show that you are alive?"

There was silence - until the sound of applause came from the royal box. The Queen Mother had started clapping, and the rest of the audience soon followed.


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02 Sep 99 | World War II
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