Beatles Receive MBEs
They were only four among a total of 189 receiving honours that day, but it was obvious who the photographers at the gates of Buckingham Palace wanted to capture arriving, and who the 4,000 or more screaming fans were there to see – The Beatles . They duly arrived in John Lennon’s Rolls in plenty of time for the 11am investiture, in spite of the fact that, according to John Lennon , they didn’t believe in the institution of the royal family. Even inside the Palace they couldn’t escape the fans, or parents of fans at any rate, having to sign autographs for others there on the day.
It was something of a shock in the sixties for pop stars to be so honoured, though now it is becoming commonplace – politicians love rubbing shoulders with their rock heroes, even if some of those shoulders must be decidedly arthritic by now. Harold Wilson knew a popular band wagon when he saw one, and jumped on, awarding The Fab Four MBEs – Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Years later John Lennon, who returned his MBE in 1969 as a protest against Britain’s stance on Biafra and Vietnam, claimed they had smoked cannabis in the toilet at the palace, though George denied it. But when Lord Cobbold, the Lord Chamberlain, called out their names they stepped forward as instructed, bowed politely in the right places, exchanged a few words, and walked away backwards so as not to turn their backs to the Queen .
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