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  • Queen Elizabeth invited Betty White and her Golden Girls co-stars to perform live because the Queen Mother was such a huge fan.
  • Despite the invitation, the ladies were told not to address Queen Elizabeth unless she addressed them first.
  • Her Majesty was not the only senior royal who was a fan of the Golden Girls.
Actress Betty White give a cute wink as she visits fuse's "No. 1 Countdown" at fuse Studios June 11, 2009 in New York City
Betty White | Gary Gershoff/WireImage

Betty White and her The Golden Girls co-stars were the queens of 80s television. At the height of the sitcom’s popularity, the cast received a royal invitation to perform live in front of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and other senior royals in London.

Very few details about the performance have been revealed over the past 30+ years. But White did once admit during a Reddit AMA that she was told “not to address” the Queen, despite Her Majesty requesting her appearance.

The Queen Mother was a huge fan of Betty White and ‘The Golden Girls’

In November 1988, the stars of The Golden Girls — Betty White (Rose Nylund), Bea Arthur (Dorothy Zbornak), Estelle Getty (Sophia Petrillo), and Rue McLanahan (Blanche Devereaux) — were part of the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium.

According to Vanity Fair, the ladies were there at the request of Queen Elizabeth because the Queen Mother was such a big fan of The Golden Girls.

“We’ll do about seven minutes from the show, but we’ll have to censor a few things for the queen,” Arthur revealed ahead of the performance.

The ‘Golden Girls’ cast reenacted two kitchen table scenes

As fans of The Golden Girls know, many scenes took place in the kitchen while the ladies enjoyed some cheesecake. Instead of performing an entire episode live for the Queen and her family, the ladies reenacted two of those famous kitchen table scenes.

According to Mental Floss, there was one line that was “surprisingly left intact” despite the censorship. It was “Sophia’s interjection to Dorothy’s question to Blanche about how long she had waited to have sex again after her husband died.”

“Until the paramedics came,” Sophia said.

The Queen Mother was reportedly spotted in the Royal Box “chuckling heartily” at the risqué response.

Betty White was told ‘not to address’ the Queen

The story of The Golden Girls and their semi-private royal performance is the stuff of legend among fans. During a 2014 Reddit AMA with White, one fan asked the comedy icon about the experience of performing for Queen Elizabeth.

“It was very exciting. The Queen was lovely. We were told not to address her unless we were addressed. She was up in a box and she came down on stage after with Princess Anne,” White remembered.

Betty White recalled her interaction with the Queen Mother in her memoir

White also included a brief mention of the royal performance and meeting the royal family in her 2010 memoir Here We Go Again: My Life in Television. The Golden Girls star specifically recalled her interaction with the 86-year-old Queen Mother.

“The ladies all dropped a small curtsy as she approached. I happened to be the last one in our foursome, and after she greeted Bea and Rue and Estelle, as she got to me, she indicated the scantily clad Rockettes behind us and said to me, ‘Aren’t they beautiful girls?’” White wrote.

“I curtsied, and replied, ‘Yes, and such lovely bodies.’ She lit up with a radiant smile that belied her eighty-six years and replied, ‘Oh, yes. Lovely bawdies.'”

Princess Diana was also a fan of ‘The Golden Girls’

Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother weren’t the only members of the royal family who were big fans of The Golden Girls. According to British comedy actress Cleo Rocos in her book The Power of Positive Drinking, she watched reruns with Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury in the late 1980s.

The trio would turn down the volume, drink champagne, and improvise show dialogue with “much naughtier” storylines.


How Betty White Fans Plan to Honor the Late Star on Her 100th Birthday

All seven seasons of The Golden Girls are available on Hulu. Betty White: A Celebration is in theaters for a special one-night only event tonight, Monday, January 17.