Paul McCartney Said He Felt Like Harry Potter When Queen Elizabeth II Knighted Him

Paul McCartney had a magical time when Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in 1997. He said he felt like Harry Potter. Paul was given the honor for his services to music and had already been given an MBE with his fellow Beatles in 1965.

Queen Elizabeth and Paul McCartney at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in 1996.
Queen Elizabeth II and Paul McCartney | Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images

The Beatles got an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II in 1965

In 1965, The Beatles announced that the queen was awarding them with MBEs (Member of the Order of the British Empire).

The press asked why they thought they were getting the awards. They said they paid tons of taxes to the British government. Replying to whether they felt they deserved the MBEs, George said, “It’s not up to us to say that. The Queen must have thought so, or she wouldn’t have given them to us, would she?”

There was some backlash on the group receiving the awards, but The Beatles arrived at Buckingham Palace to hundreds of screaming fans. One person climbed the palace’s gates, an offense that could get you killed today.

John Lennon said stepping into the palace was like a dream and that The Beatles were so nervous. He later claimed they smoked marijuana in the bathrooms to calm their nerves before going in. However, George said they only smoked a quick cigarette.

Later, John returned his MBE.

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Paul said he felt like Harry Potter when Queen Elizabeth II knighted him

The ex-Beatle spoke about his 1997 knighting during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2019. Paul said he felt like Harry Potter when the queen knighted him.

“It’s quite something, you can imagine,” Paul explained. “And what you have to do is, you’re not allowed to turn your back on her. So you walk in, not turning your back on her for one second. You stand in front of her, you walk down there, and there she is. The queen of the whole world!

“And she’s got this sword. Anyway, you’ve got a little red cushion, and you’ve been told what to do. So you kneel down on the cushion, and then she takes the sword and does it either side of your shoulder, and then says, ‘Arise, Sir Paul.’

“So you were an ordinary guy, and then she does that [tapping each of his shoulders], you’re just magically Sir Paul. It’s just like Harry Potter.

“But the thing is, the sword is special. The sword belonged to Æthelred the Unready. It’s an old sword.”

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Paul was one of the first musicians knighted

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Paul was one of the first musicians to be knighted. Cliff Richard was the first to be given a knighthood in 1995. Since then, many musicians have gotten the honor, including Bono (2007), Mick Jagger (2003), and Elton John (1998). David Bowie turned his down, though.

Three of Paul’s four children attended the ceremony to support their father. His wife Linda was absent from the ceremony because of her battle with breast cancer. Thirteen months later, on April 17, 1998, Linda died.

“I would have loved the whole family to be here, but when we heard there were only three tickets, we had to draw straws,” Paul said per History.

When Ringo Starr and George Harrison heard that Paul would be knighted, Paul said, “They call me ‘Your Holiness.'” Paul dedicated his knighthood to his bandmates. “I just remember the other three. I keep looking over my shoulder expecting to see them,” Paul said outside the palace (per CBS).

In 2018, Ringo joined the club. After the ceremony, he joked that he’d wear the medal at breakfast. Ringo and Paul are wizards together.

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