The Paul McCartney Project

Paul McCartney is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

Tuesday, March 11, 1997 • Posted in “A day in the life
Timeline More from year 1997
Buckingham Palace, London, UK

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On December 31, 1996, it was announced that Paul McCartney was appointed Knight Bachelor, as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year Honours’ list. The ceremony was held on March 11, 1997. From Wikipedia:

[…] The 54-year-old lad from Liverpool became Sir Paul in a centuries-old ceremony of pomp and solemnity at Buckingham Palace in central London. Fans waited outside in a scene reminiscent of Beatlemania of the 1960s. Crowds screamed as McCartney swept through the gates in his chauffeur-driven limousine and he answered with a thumbs-up.

McCartney’s wife, Linda, who was fighting breast cancer, did not accompany him, but three of their four children were at the palace. “I would have loved the whole family to be here, but when we heard there were only three tickets, we had to draw straws,” McCartney said. […]

McCartney admitted he was very nervous before the ceremony but said it had been a great experience. “Proud to be British, wonderful day and it’s a long way from a little terrace (street) in Liverpool,” he told reporters. Aides said he won’t be calling himself “Sir Paul,” the title conferred when the queen tapped him on each shoulder with a naked sword as he knelt on the investiture stool. McCartney’s knighthood was considered long overdue even by the conservative standards used in Britain, which sees most such honors going to judges, scientists and politicians. […]

It’s like getting a big school prize. You don’t go after it but if you do some good drawings they give you the art prize because they think you’re alright. And that’s the way I take the knighthood. It’s not become a big ego trip. It’s just something nice that was offered and it would be rude to turn it down. The best thing about it is that when me and Linda are sitting alone on holiday, watching the sunset, I can turn to her and say ‘Hey, you’re a Lady’. It’s a giggle, because you get to make your girl a Lady – although she always was to me anyway

Paul McCartney, from Club Sandwich N°82, Summer 1997

This is one of the best days of my life. Today is fantastic, there is a blue sky and it’s springtime. My mum and dad would have been extremely proud – and perhaps they are. l would never have dreamed of this day. If we’d had that thought when we started off in Liverpool it would have been laughed at as a complete joke. Proud to be British. A wonderful day. It’s a long way from a little terrace in Liverpool.

Paul McCartney

Such an accolade is like passing all your exams ever with a triple A-plus. Originally, half of me was a bit cynical. I thought about whether I should accept it or question it. It came down to the feeling that it was a very great honor that the people of Liverpool and the British people of my generation could share in. It was a great day when the queen put the old Edward the Confessor’s sword on my shoulder. It is hugely historical. And one of my kids cried. That brought home what a big deal it was.

Paul McCartney, interview by USA Today, May 1997

Here is what Paul said to reporters on this day:

Have you spoken to the other Beatles about this?

Yep. They make fun of me. They keep ringing us and calling me ‘Your Holiness’, but they’re having a good time. It seems strange being here without the other three. I keep looking over my shoulder for them.

How is Linda?

She’s doing fine, thanks. We drew straws, ‘cos we could only get three tickets. So I’ve got my three youngest kids with me.

But she’s doing well?

Linda is fine. She’s doing very well. I would have loved my whole family to have been here, but as we only had three guest tickets, Linda and Heather decided to stay out of the limelight today.


l’m still heavily involved in music. And I have a new album, Flaming Pie, out in May. It’s mainly a solo album, but Ringo plays on it.

Last updated on September 20, 2020

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