Prince Philip was a modern man. He had many interests that weren’t normal for a royal. Things like space travel, especially the moon landing in 1969, amazed him. Prince Philip encouraged change in an institution that was, and still often is, against it. So it’s really no surprise that he enjoyed rock music. He even enjoyed The Beatles music and defended the band when the press was highly critical of their influence on young people.
Prince Philip thought The Beatles were ‘good chaps’
The Beatles’ first brush with royalty came in 1963. They met with Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, after their performance on the Royal Variety Show. According to the Liverpool Echo, she said The Beatles were “so fresh and vital. I simply adore them.”
Later, in 1964, the Queen Mother’s son-in-law called the band “good chaps.” Prince Philip first met The Beatles when he presented them with two Carl-Alan Awards at the Empire Ballroom, Leicester Square. When he handed them the awards, they made a show of fighting over who got to hold them, as Prince Philip laughed to the side. The Duke of Edinburgh even talked with John Lennon about books during their brief meeting.
The Duke of Edinburgh once called The Beatles a ‘helpful influence’
Shortly after The Beatles returned from their highly successful American tour in February 1964, the Duke of Edinburgh told the New York Times that he thought the Fab Four was a “helpful” influence.
“He said he did not care how much noise people made ‘singing and dancing,’ the Times wrote. “What he objects to, he told a gathering of foreign newsmen, is ‘fighting and stealing.'”
“It seems to me that these blokes [the Beatles] are helping people to enjoy themselves, and that it is far better than the other,” Prince Philip told the press. After this interview, Prince Philip talked about The Beatles a couple more times.
Prince Philip defended the band and their music
Bill Harry wrote in The Mersey Beat that Prince Philip was misquoted saying that he thought The Beatles “were on the wane” during his and Queen Elizabeth’s 1965 tour of Canada. However, the London Standard believed the story and ran a poll which found five out of seven people disagreed with what Prince Philip had said.
When Prince Philip heard the news, he sent The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein a personal telegram explaining what he’d actually told the press. They asked him about the band, and he replied, “I think the Beatles are away.”
Prince Philip couldn’t have The Beatles thinking he disliked them. He was a huge fan of theirs. In 1969, Prince Philip spoke highly of and even defended the band during an interview with Meet the Press. Panelist Elie Abel asked the Prince if he took pride in “one of Britain’s more successful exports,” The Beatles, despite their “youthful attitudes toward drugs, sex, lifestyle, as the young people call it…”
“I think they make very good music, and from that point of view, I wholly support them, I think what they do in their private lives is largely their business,” Prince Philip said. He continued to say that if The Beatles encouraged people to do things that are “perhaps not in their best interests,” he would “deplore” the band.
“But musically, which I think [is their] main claim to fame, I think they’ve done a tremendous job, and they write some marvelous tunes,” Prince Philip concluded. It’s interesting to see a royal defend a rock ‘n’ roll band. But that’s just who Prince Philip was; he rolled with the times. Just like his sister-in-law Princess Margaret.