Elvis Presley Wanted To Know One Thing During Only UK Visit Before Turning Down The Queen

ByQuyen Anne

Mar 11, 2024

Elvis Presley only ever visited the UK once officially, although a huge British star also described a secret nighttime adventure. One of the lucky fans there described everything.

Elvis at Prestwick Airport in 1960

In the late 1950s and early 1960s he was the biggest star in the world, so why did Elvis only come to the UK once – and why did The King turn down The Queen?

On this day, March 3, 1960, rumours ran like wildfire through the small Scottish town of Prestwick, 30 miles southwest of Glasgow. Teenager Ann Murphy received a phone call at work from her mum telling her that Elvis Presley really would be arriving at the airport in a few hours.

The star was on his way home from Germany after completing two years of military service. Even though it had interrupted his almost instant rise to worldwide fame since 1955, his manager, Colonel Parker, and record company and been keeping fans tantalised with regular prerecorded music and updates.

Elvis Presley meets the press during only UK visit 3 March 1960, Prestwick

Elvis Presley press interviews during only UK visit 3 March 1960, Prestwick


16-year-old Ann dashed home, changed into “my American jeans, lumberjacket, bobby socks and blue suede shoes”, and then cycled three miles to the airport with her best friend Muriel. It was a US forces base until 1966 and was used as a refuelling point for military and later transatlantic commercial flights until the 1970s.

Base commander Colonel Russell Fisher, admininistration officer Major Ben Bacchus and chief executive officer Major Ed Miller officially met Elvis and Miller recalled: “He was an extremely pleasant, sincere young man who took the time and trouble to speak to everyone he met. The lucky few fans who were in the right place at the right time were left with the memory of a lifetime.”


Elvis Presley meets fans during only UK visit 3 March 1960, Prestwick


Ann told the Elvis Presley Fans website: “Muriel and I were right at the barrier. We were so excited and suddenly the plane was in front of us. The door opened and there was Elvis. He was so handsome in his uniform. He waved and we started screaming. He shouted: ‘Where am I?’ and people shouted back: ‘Prestwick’ – but I was shouting: ‘I love you’.

“Elvis came down the stairs and looked fantastic with that beautiful smile. We could hardly believe we were looking at him. We could nearly touch him. Then Muriel did an amazing thing. She jumped over the barrier and threw herself on him – a couple of huge military policemen scraped her off and put her back over the barrier.”

Elvis turned down Queen Elizabeth

Elvis turned down Queen Elizabeth’s invitation (Image: GETTY )

Elvis was reportedly far more relaxed and approachable without his manager and entourage around him and spent time talking to fans before going inside for a press conference and then reboarding the transport plane.

Two years later, Elvis was invited by the Palace to join the line-up for the 1962 Royal Variety Performance alongside Bob Hope, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, and Eartha Kitt.

Queen Elizabeth presided over the event but The King turned our queen down. In fact, apart from some concerts in Canada, and shows and filming Hawaii, he never left the United States again.

Most believe this was due to the influence of his manager. Dutch national Parker was an illegal alien in the US (with rumoured links to a murder back home in Breda) and did not want to risk leaving the country in case he wasn’t permitted to return. Therefore, he made sure Elvis was never booked to appear overseas.

Did Elvis have a secret night with Tommy Steele

Did Elvis have a secret night with Tommy Steele (Image: GETTY)

However, a sensational claim emerged when theatre impresario and football enthusiast Bill Kenwright told BBC Radio 2 that The King did return to the UK, and was accompanied by star Sir Tommy Steele for a secret trip around London.

Bill said: “I remember him telling me about when Elvis came to England very quietly. Evidently Tommy got home one night and the phone rings. A voice says, ‘They tell me you’re good.’ Tommy says, ‘Who’s this?’ ‘Elvis’ says the voice. ‘Get outta here’, says Tommy. ‘Are you as good as me?’ says Elvis… and they started this mock rivalry.”


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