Sting Says This Happened With The Royal Family and It Changed His Life

While the British musician Sting is known worldwide at this point in his career, the direction his life was headed in as a young boy was entirely different.

British musician Sting
British musician Sting | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

For the singer to go from working-class family to world-class musician was no straight trajectory and certainly not expected by anyone, least of all himself.

Find out how Sting’s life and perspective changed dramatically after an encounter with a member of the royal family.

Sting’s upbringing and his musical about it

The singer, born Gordon Sumner in northeast England, lived very close to one of the world’s largest shipyards. Most of his town worked there and the younger men were expected to end up there as laborers. But for Sting, it was where he knew he didn’t want to be. His musical, The Last Ship, is the story of this shipyard and of the families and friendships surrounding it.

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“It’s really the story of my town,” the 68-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter this week. “I come from a little town in the Northeast of England. It was a famous shipyard town. We built the biggest vessels ever constructed on the planet, right at the end of my street.”

“So it was a kind of epic, surreal industrial environment, which I didn’t appreciate as a kid. It was a very frightening idea that I would end up in the shipyard as my ancestors had done. I’d pass thousands of men every morning, thinking, ‘I don’t want this.'”

He was a teacher before he was a rock star

Sting’s early jobs included working as a bus conductor, construction worker, and tax officer. After these jobs, he attended what is now Northumbria University, where he qualified as a teacher, and got a job teaching English, music, and soccer at St. Paul’s First School in Cramlington for two years.

He later recollected of working there, “I was the only man on the faculty. In fact, I was the only teacher not in a habit.”

The Fields of Gold pop star still has a bit of the English teacher in him, as evidenced by his “Book of the Month” posts on his Instagram account.

Sting’s fateful encounter with royalty

For a child growing up in 1950s England, the queen and her family must have seemed larger than life. For Sting, seeing them in photographs, hearing the queen’s radio addresses, witnessing the reverence his family and neighbors had for her were all surely influential.

The Queen Mother had come to the shipyard by young Sting’s home to launch a new ship. The Hollywood Reporter this week asked the Roxanne singer if this was indeed true. Not only was this true, according to the singer; she changed his life.

The Queen Mother in 1939
The Queen Mother in 1939 | Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

“Absolutely. God’s gospel truth. When they launched a big ship at the end of my street, they’d invite dignitaries up from London — the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen. It must’ve been 1960, so I’ll be 8 or 9 years old. And the Queen Mother came down the street and we all were waving our little flags and I caught her eye for some reason.”

“She did that little wave they do. And she just kept looking at me for what seemed like forever. I thought I’d been noticed by someone from another planet. Me! Little me! And it made me think, well, I should be in that car. I have a right to a bigger life than this. And so in many ways it was galvanizing.”

Read more: What is Singer/Songwriter Sting’s Net Worth and Who Was ‘Every Breath You Take’ Really About?