Local Current Blog

The life and times of Prince’s dove, Majesty

For an artist who rose to international fame thanks in part to a song called “When Doves Cry,” it’s no surprise that Prince had an affinity for the cooing, feathered symbols of love and peace. Doves were a major part of Prince’s imagery and artistry as early as 1984, and he kept pet doves for the past three decades at his Paisley Park compound.

When Prince died, his sister Tyka revealed that his doves, Majesty and Divinity, stopped cooing. It wasn’t until someone piped their owner’s music into the Paisley Park Atrium that they found their voice again. It was a detail almost as devastating as the news that Prince had passed; a realization that he could be so important to these delicate little creatures that they would visibly grieve his loss, just like we did.

Last week, the male dove in Prince’s duo, Majesty, died.

I’ve been trying for days to wrap my head around what this means for Paisley Park; what it means for the surviving dove, Divinity; what it means for our anxious world. The symbolism is almost too pointed to bear, isn’t it?

But it also made me curious about Prince’s long relationship to these tender birds.

The first time Prince publicly showed his love for doves was in the lead-up to the release of his single, “When Doves Cry,” the first song that was released from Purple Rain. “Why do we scream at each other?” Prince asks in the song, contrasting the chaos of heartache with the peace of the doves. “This is what it sounds like / When doves cry.”

Artwork created around the release depicted a pair of doves, Divinity (in white) and a contrasting black mate. In the tour book sold during the run of shows supporting Purple Rain in 1984 and 1985, Divinity is pictured.

Photo by Nancy Bundt

The next time the doves took center stage was around the time of the 1992 Love Symbol Album, when Prince filmed a video with his soon-to-be-wife Mayte Garcia for the song “Seven.” This was Majesty’s debut on screen, as he is cradled in Mayte’s hands, given a kiss on the head, and set free to fly through the set.

majesty

The doves’ biggest moment just might be when they received album credits β€” yes, album credits! β€” for their contribution to Prince’s song “Arboretum,” a stirring solo piano piece that he recorded alone in Paisley Park’s Atrium for the direct-to-fans release One Nite Alone…, which he sold through his online NPG Music Club in 2002. Since the doves were kept in a cage on the balcony overlooking the Atrium, they could be heard in the recording of the song, and Prince thanked them for their service in the liner notes, writing, “ambient singing: the doves DIVINITY AND MAJESTY.”

It’s worth noting that it’s impossible to say whether the Divinity and Majesty who resided at Paisley Park when Prince passed away in 2016 were the same Divinity and Majesty on One Nite Alone…, or in the “Seven” video, or especially in the photography and artwork from the Purple Rain era. Although their lifespan in the wild is short, when kept in captivity doves can live for over 20 years. And they obviously had top-notch accommodations at Paisley Park, where they were kept in an ornate white cage near Prince’s private living quarters.

What we can say for certain is that these doves were treasured by Prince, and that they had a role in shaping not just his personality but also his art. Rest in peace, Majesty.

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world so cold?
Maybe I’m just too demanding
Maybe I’m just like my father, too bold
Maybe you’re just like my mother
She’s never satisfied
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

  • LuxLuxLux

    Prince obsession gone too far now methinks

    • Taryn
    • melaniedacus

      Me thinks you need to move on then, stay away from Prince posts…

      • LuxLuxLux

        If I want to express my opinion I will. The obsession with fans over the death of a very old animal is going too far. Prince fans on Twitter had a complete meltdown.

        • Adriana Bagnara Arizpe

          So ?

        • Sheila Reaves

          Meh your opinion is yours. Prince fans are loyal, they loved him and you clearly don’t get it so you have a nice day. You’re outnumbered.

          • LuxLuxLux

            I’ve been into Prince for 30 years – just because I am a fam of his doesn’t mean I’m obsessed with everything in his life such as his pets. No one would care about his doves if he was still here. Listen to your language “you’re outnumbered” – why so agressive? That’s not very Prince like now is it? I wonder how many fans disappeared on him through the years and only came back after April? They’re all over the place. Don’t suggest I’m disloyal because I think mourning someone’s pet is obsessive & fanatic. The responses I’ve got are typical of fanatics- acting like teenagers instead of grown adults. If you don’t like a comment scroll on, ignore don’t impose your feelings on others or make assumptions. All the best.

          • Sheila Reaves

            Well in fact you stopped to leave your opinion so why shouldn’t I leave mine. You’re outnumbered is in no way agressive, just matter-of-fact and people mourning Majesty doesn’t make them fanatical, some of us love animals and are genuinely sad that he died. I’ve seen animals die of grief before and it is very sad. Prince was known to be a bit testy from time-to-time so I don’t think he”d mind as i’m sure he would’ve been devastated had it happened when he was alive and I’m also sure fans probably wouldn’t have known as he was very private. So like you said if I want to express my opinion I will. You have a nice day.

          • Shelly Stodola

            You are an insensitive animal hater – stay off this chat line – your opinions are hateful mean and sickening! I hate your dick demented comments- get mental help. !

          • Shelly Stodola

            Obviously you WERE NOT A FAN and if you think you are PRINCE would not like you for a minute/ ugly mouth of yours!

          • Shelly Stodola

            LuxLuxLux- your comments are horrible and sickening. I am a huge lover of prince AND Majesty and Divinity/ I bet you don’t even know the doves names. You sound ignorant uneducated and dumb at best.

          • LuxLuxLux

            I bet you don’t know those doves dies and were replaced numerous times through the years, being given the same names. I don’t deserve all this abuse just because I choose not to mourn a celebrity’s pet. How does that make me an animal hater? You are the fanatics Prince was so against. I’m embarrassed for your over reaction. I am not the one who needs mental help.

  • Kim Huston

    Love this so much!! It goes without saying that articles like this will get haters but there are THOUSANDS of people sharing everything they can get their hands on to read. This is loved…thank u for your continued respect & love. <3

  • Vickie Fisher

    I love birds, so I am empathetic. Thanks, dear Andrea Swensson for a sweet blog entry!

  • Marina Rose

    Thanks Andrea. I so enjoy your thoughtful articles. πŸ’œ

  • becky

    Prince will get us doves back one at a time.

  • Michelle Moe

    Arboretum is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  • jacqueline

    Prince wanted his birds with him his spirit is powerful.those birds couldn’t go on without him he is all they have ever known…rip prine

  • Sharon E Galley

    Wow amazing the love of owner and animal

  • To me the Doves were always there never even thought about it they were just Prince Doves they are like the symbol I love Doves very much myself and I’m sorry to hear of the passing of MajestyπŸ’œβ˜”πŸŽ΅πŸ¦

  • Annie Ward

    I wanted to thank you for this and more particularly the article about finding Lake (not) Minnetonka which I went back and read several times. Wonderful writing and I shared your sentiment about the grieving.