Dolly Parton Playfully Turns Down Tea with Kate Middleton Because 'She Wasn't Going to Promote My Rock Album'

The country music legend said the tea date was all set up, but she had to turn the royal family down

Dolly Parton was invited to tea with Kate Middleton, but she playfully turned down the opportunity knowing the meeting would not help her record sales.

While on BBC Radio 2, host Claudia Winkleman asked the country music legend, 77, if she planned to see more of London. She has seen the U.K. capital during her years of touring, but this time, her team had her schedule so packed that she could not meet the Princess of Wales, 41, between promoting her album Rockstar.

“This time, Lordy, I even got invited to have tea with Kate,” Parton told Winkleman, 51. “And I felt so bad… I couldn’t even go! They had all this stuff set up.”

<p>Kevin Kane/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame</p> Dolly Parton in November 2022

Kevin Kane/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Dolly Parton in November 2022

Related: Dolly Parton on How She Deals with Anger: 'I Don't Lose My Temper — I Use My Temper'

The “Jolene” singer thought it was a “very sweet and nice” gesture for Kate to invite her to tea, she said. “And one of these days I’m going to get to do that… That would be great!”

Parton then joked that there was another reason for skipping the tea date, beyond just a busy schedule.

“She wasn’t going to promote my rock album, so I had to say no,” Parton said in jest.

Although Parton missed her chance to meet royalty during this trip to the U.K., she has performed for the royal family in the past. In 1977, the Tennessee native performed at Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. More than 45 years later, Parton recalled how afraid she was about curtsying correctly.

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“Even though you have to do the protocol, you have to bow and all that, I could tell that she didn't care about that. That's just something she had to do," Parton told Insider in February. "And if somebody made a mistake, it was OK."

Parton was “scared to death” about messing up the curtsy, but recalled how “very warm, very sweet” and “very giving” the Queen was. “Just meeting the Queen of England, just to meet a queen, it was amazing,” Parton told the outlet.

<p>Karwai Tang/WireImage</p> Kate Middleton in July 2023

Karwai Tang/WireImage

Kate Middleton in July 2023

Related: Dolly Parton Releases Powerful Rendition of Beatles Classic 'Let It Be': Listen

The “I Will Always Love You” singer paid tribute to the Queen when she died in September 2022.

“She carried herself with grace and strength her entire life,” Parton wrote on Instagram, adding a photo of her meeting with the late monarch. “May she Rest In Peace. My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.”

Parton’s Rockstar album will be released on Nov. 17 and features contributions from several U.K. music legends, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Frampton, Sting and Simon Le Bon.

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