Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) dies: a look back at how the camp superstar charmed the royals and pushed boundaries

The iconic drag superstar was known to crack up the likes of Queen Consort Camilla and King Charles

Dame Edna comic Barry Humphries has died aged 89
(Image credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Oh Possums. Sad news as the Australian comedian Barry Humphries – creator of the iconic Dame Edna – has passed away. As Dame Edna, the comic managed to become a firm favorite amongst the Royal Family, even breaking protocol by sitting in the Queen Mother’s royal box, surprising Charles and Camilla in hilarious skits, and causing Princess Diana to break out into a fit of laughter.

  • Barry Humphries – the Australian comic behind creations like the hilarious Dame Edna Everage – has passed away, aged 89
  • Best known for the brazen drag persona Dame Edna, Humphries became a fast favorite with royal family members, and was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2007
  • In other royal news, Princess Catherine's idea that Meghan Markle found very difficult

Australian entertainer Barry Humphries, best known for his iconic character Dame Edna Everage, has died aged 89. The legendary entertainer had been in hospital in Sydney after suffering complications following hip surgery earlier in the year.

The Melbourne born comic ultimately found his biggest career successes after moving to London in 1959, appearing in West End shows such as Maggie May and Oliver!

Dame Edna charmed her way into the hearts of royals including Princess Diana

(Image credit: Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

Inspired by the absurdist, avant-garde art movement dada, he became one of the leading figure of the British comedy scene alongside the likes of Alan Bennett, Dudley Moore and Spike Milligan.

The drag creation, Dame Edna Everage, first appeared in the 1950s when he was still living in Australia, as a parody of suburban housewives - based on his own mother.

Describing the evolution of Edna, Barry told the Guardian in 2019, “Edna was painfully shy at first. Hard to believe!”

Hard to believe, indeed. Famous for her lilac rinse hair, camp, cat-eye glasses and catchphrase “Hello Possums!” Dame Edna ended up being the antithesis of shy.

So much so that she had no fears in breaking royal protocol and surprising the now King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla in their private box at the Royal Variety Awards in 2019.

Proving their own good humor, Charles and Camilla seemed genuinely shocked but not offended by Dame Edna crashing into their box and taking a seat next to the couple. Looking around innocently, Dame Edna places a hand on Camilla’s arm before getting up and joking that the theater had found her a “better seat.

Charles wasn’t the only sovereign to get the Dame Edna experience. The larger than life figure had previously met Queen Elizabeth II, and even beat the Queen Mother to her own seat in an earlier comic sketch.

Lizzie Spender and Dame Edna creator Barry Humphries

(Image credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park)

Dame Edna also made Diana, Princess of Wales burst out into laughter in an adorable photo.

In 2007, Melbourne renamed Brown Alley in the central business district Dame Edna Place and the same year the comic was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to entertainment.

Tributes for Barry Humphries have begun to pour in, including from the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“A great wit, satirist, writer and an absolute one-of-kind, he was both gifted and a gift,” Mr Albanese said.

In a statement, his family remembered him as “completely himself until the very end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity of spirit.”

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.