When Her Majesty The Queen passed away on 8 September, the BBC rolled out plans that had been a long time in the making for the look and feel of its coverage of the news and extended programming. Everything from the colour scheme and fonts, to the photo montages had been designed and signed off years in advance of needing to be used. The same went for the music.


Composer Debbie Wiseman was commissioned to write a piece of music for the official coverage, and that music – which went on to be very popular with viewers – is now to be released by Silva Screen Records, with all proceeds going to The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.

The composer, who has previously written music for Her Late Majesty’s Diamond and Platinum Jubilees, not to mention her 90th Birthday Celebrations at Windsor, is delighted that the piece will be available for people to listen to in full.

‘I’m just so happy that we’ve managed to make it; with the requests that we’d received and people wanting it, it just felt right. Music is such a comfort for people, and it was so emotional on the day of the funeral, the music being used with that beautiful montage at the end.’

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Wiseman’s piece, called Elizabeth Remembered was used throughout the ten-day period on BBC Television in its originally conceived short form, but a much longer version was shared at the end of the funeral broadcast, following a particularly emotional sign off by presenter Kirsty Young. It was a bit of a surprise for the composer, as she shared with us.

‘It was a long version that I recorded, but never expected them to use. It was recorded more for us; they wanted the titles and the credits, which were about 30 or 40 seconds, and so I did lots of versions. But I said "why don’t we just do a long version so we’ve got it?" So we recorded a three-minute version and they played it at the end of the funeral.’

That three-minute version is what will be available to download on 21 October, an idea which came from the composer herself.

‘We were completely flooded with requests from people wanting it, which was lovely. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such an immediate reaction to anything I’ve written. I had the idea that we could do it as a charity single, and it felt appropriate that it could go to one of The Queen’s charities. Because I’ve worked with them before, I know that The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust was one of her treasured charities; she felt in touch with them a lot and it was very special to her.’

But what of the original commission? Wiseman admits that it was an unusual assignment, but one that was undertaken by all involved with the greatest of respect.

‘I had just done the music for The Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations at Windsor; I’d just met her, so it was quite a strange thing to be writing. They said they didn’t want it to be very mournful, because she was a remarkable woman and though people would feel sad they wanted them to feel great warmth and affection, also a sense of what she did for people and how she made them feel when they met her. That all had to come togther in one piece of music. We recorded it five years ago with the BBC Concert Orchestra. It was done in great secrecy, but with great respect; we understood that it had to be done. It was sad to have to do it, but at the same time we knew we were doing it for the right reasons.’


Elizabeth Remembered’ is available to download on all digital music platforms from Friday 21 October, with all proceeds going to The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.


Michael BeekReviews Editor, BBC Music Magazine

Michael is the Reviews Editor of BBC Music Magazine. He was previously a freelance film music journalist and spent 15 years at St George's Bristol. Michael specialises in film and television music and was the Editor of MusicfromtheMovies.com. He has written for the BBC Proms, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, Hollywood in Vienna and Silva Screen Records.