The Beatles and Royalty

By Bill Harry  

Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Princess MargaretAt Christmas he took his medal down to his Aunt Mimi's bungalow in Poole, Dorset and told her she could keep it. She placed it on her sideboard beneath a picture of John, but later placed it on top of her television set.

One day John sent his chauffeur, Les Anthony, to collect it from her. Anthony told Mimi, "Mr. Lennon said would you lend him the MBE medal for a while." Mimi told him "Yes, but tell him, don't forget it's mine and I want it back." John had it wrapped up in brown paper and sent it to the Queen at Buckingham Palace with the message, "I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against 'Cold Turkey' slipping down the charts. With love. John Lennon, Bag Productions, 3 Savile Row, London W.I." He also sent similar letters to the Prime Minister and to the Secretary of the Central Chancery.

Hus Aunt Mimi was furious at the deception and told John in no uncertain terms, accusing him of insulting the Queen. "He broke my heart over that," she said, "and also, he didn't tell me first why that medal was being taken away."

John was later to regret that he'd added the facetious remark about 'Cold Turkey' in the letter, and despite the fact that he'd returned the medal, he still retained the honour as it could not be renounced once it had been accepted. Paul, George and Ringo, on the other hand, had no regrets about accepting their awards.

It is said that when John was having problems in America regarding his efforts to avoid deportation and to receive a Green Card, he wrote to the Queen requesting the return of the medal as he felt that having it might strengthen his acceptance as a suitable person to obtain a Green Card.

The shortest Beatles number on record is 'Her Majesty', the closing track on the 'Abbey Road' album, which is only 23 seconds long. This was written by Paul McCartney as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth 11 and complimentary copies were sent to Buckingham Palace. Paul sang the number to the Queen at 'The Queens Jubilee: Party At The Palace' in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on June 3 2002.

In 1995 Prince Charles presented Paul with the Fellowship of the Royal College of Music. The following year, on Friday June 7, Queen Elizabeth 11 officially opened Paul's project LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) and Paul personally escorted her around the college. The highest accolade came when he received a knighthood from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1996.

Association with Royalty didn't end there and the Queen visited the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool in 2002 to view Paul's exhibition of paintings, with Paul, once again, her escort.

Would John Lennon have accepted a knighthood? I don't really know, but I doubt it. Paul is comfortable being an A list celebrity and, like Mick Jagger, enjoys rubbing shoulders with members of the upper strata of society. It is a puzzling reflection that with Paul and George Martin celebrating their knighthoods, George and Ringo still remained at the bottom of the pecking order of gongs with their lowly MBEs while entertainers of every kind, even their Liverpool contemporaries such as Jimmy Tarbuck were receiving higher acclaim with awards, including CBEs. George died without any further acknowledgement in the British Honours List and when there were demands that he be given a posthumous knighthood, this was rejected as being against protocol.

As for the future, it seems unlikely that Ringo will ever receive a knighthood - but will be ever be recommended for an honour higher than his MBE?

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