George Harrison / Facebook
20 years after Paul McCartney was knighted Sir James Paul McCartney, CH, MBE, his bandmate and decades long friend Sir Ringo Starr is officially the second Beatle to receive knighthood.
Unfortunately, he’s likely also the last.
Thanks to a set of rules that dictate how knighthood is granted, late Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison can’t and won’t be knighted any time soon – something that at first glance seems exceptionally cruel but upon a closer look makes sense, even if it IS still a little unfair. The honours system currently in place recognizes people who have “made achievements in public life” and who have “committed themselves to serving and helping Britain,” having both improved life for others and proven to be exceptional and outstanding at what they do.
Fun Fact: Whether someone gets an honour – and the honour they get – is decided by an honours committee. The committee’s recommendations go to the Prime Minister and then to the Queen, who awards the honour.
Now; you’re reading this and thinking that surely John and George have met both requirements in spades, and they absolutely have! Unfortunately, the biggest requirement for knighthood also dictates that in order to even be nominated, they must still be actively involved in what you’re nominating them for and tragically, John Lennon and George Harrison’s deaths make them ineligible.
To be totally fair, the idea of knighthood likely wouldn’t have sat well with John Lennon anyway – or the Queen. As I’m sure you remember, Lennon famously sparked public outcry when in 1969 he returned his MBE to the Queen in his trademark cheeky fashion “to 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,” souring his relationship with the British government. Like bandmates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, George kept his MBE.
That’s okay; what’s a title when your legacy includes being in one of the most culturally significant bands to ever walk the earth?