Beatles: Was Their Song ‘Her Majesty’ Meant to Insult Queen Elizabeth II?
The Beatles are indispensable British cultural icons. Queen Elizabeth II is an indispensable British cultural icon. Believe it or not, the Beatles wrote a song about Queen Elizabeth II. One might think the convergence of the royal family and the Beatles would result in a huge hit.
This was not the case. The song in question — “Her Majesty” — languishes in obscurity. Interestingly, it includes lyrics which could be interpreted as insulting the queen. This raises an interesting question: Was “Her Majesty” intended as a call-out of the queen?
The oddball history of the Beatles’ ‘Her Majesty’
Paul McCartney completed the song before deciding it was bad. He commanded a studio engineer to get rid of the track. However, the song was accidentally left in a version of the album cut at Apple Studios.
The Beatles then decided to keep the song on Abbey Road. However, the original editions of its parent album failed to mention the song on their track listings. Thus “Her Majesty” became the first ever hidden track on a rock album. It must have been quite surprising for 1960s Beatles fans to hear a song which wasn’t mentioned on the track listing!
Is ‘Her Majesty’ a critique of the monarchy?
Although the track is brief, it packs a surprising punch. The lyrics of “Her Majesty” describe a man who wants to romance the queen. Although he’d like to have a relationship with her, he has some unflattering things to say about her. “Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl/But she doesn’t have a lot to say/Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl/But she changes from day to day.”
Is the song intended as an attack on the queen? It could be interpreted that way. Notably, the anarchist punk band Chumbawamba covered the song with new lyrics protesting the monarchy. Their cover features the line “Her majesty’s a pretty nice girl/But she’s pretty much obsolete.”
What does Paul McCartney think about Queen Elizabeth II?
So what did the writers of “Her Majesty” think about the song? John Lennon co-wrote the song with Paul. John doesn’t appear to have commented on the track but Paul acknowledged “Her Majesty” is “mildly disrespectful.” However, he said it was ultimately a monarchist track.
Paul noted the song was comic rather than critical and noted how society has evolved such that he could write a song like “Her Majesty.” “It’s just a cheeky little song. It sort of sums up how things have changed, doesn’t it? You can write songs like that and not get sent to the Tower.”
Paul actually has a very positive view of the queen. He praised her for being intelligent, fabulous, and glamorous. He wishes he had been able to spend more time with her. More than that, Paul sees the queen as a unifying force in British society during a time of polarization. Paul said he’d prefer to have a queen than a president.