Barlow reveals Jubilee concert was almost halted by Duke's health scare

The Queen meets Gary Barlow
Gary Barlow earned an OBE following his role in the Jubilee celebrations. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Gary Barlow has this evening revealed the summer's Diamond Jubilee Concert was nearly called off shortly before the show amid the Duke of Edinburgh's health scare.

Despite the Duke's absence, the Queen arrived in time to attend the June concert and tonight honoured those involved in all of the Jubilee celebrations in a reception at Buckingham Palace.

But recalling the day, Take That star Barlow said:

We were all scared to death that it was all going to be cancelled. But the Queen showed up, like she always does, and represented the event by herself.

At that point we knew 'all systems go, let's get the show on the road'. But it did scare us for a second, I must say.

The X-Factor judge, who earned an OBE after masterminding the star-studded Jubilee gig, told reporters he was "very proud" to hold the honour despite calls for him to return it in the wake of claims he was involved in "aggressive tax avoidance" schemes.

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal was also present at the Palace reception having helped to lay on picnic delicacies for the 12,000 ticket holders at the June 4 concert.

He said playing a part in the event was an "amazing" experience.

On the day I was driving around the outside of the palace and we could see thousands of people queuing, they were queuing and lapping themselves and (all I could see was) picnic hampers.

I'm never happy with what I've done, I always think I could do better, I'm getting a bit better at taking compliments but the reaction was fantastic.

– Heston Blumenthal
The Queen meets Heston Blumenthal
Heston Blumenthal helped the Queen's royal chef prepare Jubilee picnic hampers. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

The now-recovered Duke joined the Queen in meeting the leading individuals behind some of the major Jubilee celebrations in the palace's white drawing room before chatting to other guests in the famous picture gallery.

The Queen and Duke greet guests
The Queen and Duke greeted guests in the palace's picture gallery. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the former culture secretary, was invited to the event and said the Jubilee was the "start of a totally magical summer" before the Olympic and Paralympic Games. He said:

(It was) something that brought the country together and made everyone feel how incredibly lucky we are to have someone like the Queen at the centre of our national life.

Mr Hunt made the Queen laugh when he told her a story about a foreign visitor who had seen the now famous Olympic opening ceremony where the monarch apparently parachutes out of a helicopter into the Olympic stadium alongside James Bond.

The Health Secretary said after chatting to the monarch:

Apparently there was a Japanese tourist who said after the opening ceremony 'you're so incredible in England, how you managed to get your Queen to jump out of a helicopter, we would never get our Emperor to do that'.

Jeremy Hunt and George Entwistle
The event also brought the former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt face to face with the new BBC chief George Entwistle. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Among the other high profile names was Bruno Peek, pageant master for the Diamond Jubilee Beacons, who coordinated the lighting of more 4,200 bonfires by communities and individuals throughout the UK, overseas territories and the Commonwealth.

Lord Salisbury, one of the senior organisers of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant and chairman of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation, was also at the palace reception.