As part of the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, The Queen’s Six performed in December at First Presbyterian Church. The singing group was established in 2008, the 450th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth I (from whom the group takes its name). Based at Windsor Castle, members of The Queen's Six make up part of the lay clerks of St. George's Chapel, whose homes lie within the castle walls. In 2018, group members' duties with the chapel choir included singing for the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle, now The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. In 2021, three members of the group sang at the funeral of HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. In 2022-2023, members of the group sang at the funeral services for Queen Elizabeth II, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and CBS Sunday Morning, and were featured in People Magazine. Members of The Queen’s Six met with SRQ on their recent visit to Sarasota.

Lay clerks singing a capella is about as English as a bowler hat. What has it been like traveling in America with this extremely English art style? SIMON: It's fun. We love coming to the states. We always have a great time here and have great audiences. We sing in wonderful churches like here at First Presbyterian. Oh, and we do love the chicken wings and the beer. 

What is a lay clerk?  NICK:  Lay clerk is a medieval term, which basically describes the role of a professional singer within a cathedral environment in the UK or a chapel environment like we have in Windsor Castle. It separates into two, but the “lay” part of lay clerk means we are not ordained in any way like a deacon or a priest. We're non-religious members of the college. And the “clerk” bit actually refers to the college (the collegiate environment), but rather than a school or university environment, it's more like a community. So, within the community of the castle, St. George's (where we sing), it’s not just a chapel and a place where people come to worship; it is actually a whole community where people live and work.

Is living and working in a castle as incredibly prestigious as it sounds?  TOM:  It is a pretty special privilege to work there. And, as part of our jobs, we live there, and we're very, very close to the chapel. So, to be coming in and out of Windsor Castle as part of your day-to-day routine is pretty remarkable. And I certainly always love bringing new guests, friends and family to the castle because it reminds you just how amazing it is. It is a special place where we get to live and work every single day. NICK: It's a unique environment, and what makes it different from the other places is we get to live in property that was built for the singers in 1470, essentially. And it's been continuously lived in. We live in these amazing, ancient houses within the castle walls, and it's part of our salary. 

The Queen's Six is an attached entity to the chapel and Windsor, so are you a company?  SIMON: We say that we are “royal-adjacent” and adjacent to St. George's Chapel. We have no official link with the castle or the royal family; we are named after Queen Elizabeth I. The group was formed on the 450th anniversary of the accession of Elizabeth I. We're not named after Elizabeth II, as many people have thought. That being said, I think we did still have to get permission to use the name The Queen's Six.

Is that a reference to the “King’s Men” of Shakespeare and Burbage fame? NICK:  At the beginning, we were looking at music from the court of Elizabeth I. She had a remarkable set of composers around the world that are still sung today. We chose the top six [composers] and we refer to them as the “Queen's Six Composers.” Our first two albums, one sacred and one more secular, were music from the six. 

And what is your mission? SIMON: To spread the wonderful music that we love singing as far and wide as we can (whilst, also, in a small way, act as quasi, unofficial ambassadors for St George’s). We wish to entertain as many people as we possibly can. TOM: Traveling with The Queen’s Six gives us all a chance to do something a little bit different from our day-to-day jobs. Often, in the chapel, we'll be singing religious music, and serious classical music. Whereas, in our programs with The Queen’s Six, we like to broaden our styles and use our voices a bit differently—do some pop, a capella and jazz arrangements, and sort of explore harmonies and sound worlds that we wouldn't do on a day-to-day basis. NICK: We did a disc of music from Tom Lehrer [the famed American ​​singer-songwriter, pianist and satirist]. His music has always been something we've loved. It was during COVID time, when we were looking for projects to do, and so it just worked out really nicely.

You sing for the royals. What are some recent highlights?  DOMINIC:  In 2018, it was the wedding of Harry and Meghan Markle. Some of the group sang at Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, and we sang at the committal part of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral.