26 Oct 1965: Beatles Awarded MBE’s at Buckingham Palace
On this day in 1965, the Beatles collected their MBEs from Buckingham Palace
The group arrived in Lennon’s Rolls-Royce to a crowd of around 4,000 screaming fans held back by police. All four members received the award, although John Lennon returned his in 1969, alongside a note reading “Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a 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 of Bag”. Apparently, Lennon found the whole incident to be bizarre and amusing, claiming to not be a fan of the Royal Family.
The rest of the group seemed happy enough with their medals as they gave a cheerful press conference outside of the palace. All of the group seemed a bit bewildered and awestruck by the event, all filled with praise for Her Majesty, again except from Lennon who was more flippant, referring to the queen as “like a mum” and “warm and sweet” and joking about the early hour of the ceremony.
The Queen herself was reportedly pleased to present the awards, despite seeming to know very little about the group, asking if Ringo Starr had been the one to form the band. Starr responded by pointing to the others and claiming it was their idea.