The news of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing this week brought back a reminder of John Lennon‘s wickedly funny commentary when the Beatles played their Royal Command performance in 1963 after receiving their MBEs.
The Beatles‘ accomplishments didn’t go unnoticed by the royal family after the better part of two years as Britain’s greatest musical ambassadors. On Oct. 26, 1965, all four members went to Buckingham Palace to receive their Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medals from Queen Elizabeth II.
Queen Elizabeth wasn’t at the performance itself, but the Queen Mother was and her reaction to John’s comment at the 15 second mark is priceless.
Twist and Shout had nothing to do with the royal family, but the little snippet that Paul McCartney titled Her Majesty, found at the end of the Abbey Road album, was about Elizabeth II, one of several Beatles tunes to reference the Queen. The others include Penny Lane, Mean Mr. Mustard, and For You Blue.
McCartney did sing Her Majesty for the Queen at the “Party at the Palace” concert in 2002 celebrating her Golden Jubilee.
Here’s how the website Rocking in the Norselands describes the performance:
In 2002, McCartney was due to headline the ‘Party At The Palace’ concert celebrating the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Before the band came on, Paul appeared alone with an acoustic guitar and played Her Majesty. It had rarely been performed before so this was a surprising, if somewhat fitting, occasion. “I’m sorry, but I just had to do it” he said, addressing the Queen from stage.
And apparently, McCartney and the Queen got along very well.
Macca and the Queen have met several times and seem to have a good rapport. During one of their meets, the Queen famously once said “We have many Beatles records at home.” Paul responded “That’s great! I have many Queen records at home too!” The Queen laughed quite heartily at this.
May Queen Elizabeth II rest in peace.
More to come…
H/T to a diarist from the Daily Kos with the reminder of this event.
Image: The Beatles receive their MBEs