Paul McCartney awarded with The French Legion of Honour

Saturday, September 8, 2012
Timeline More from year 2012
Élysée Palace, Paris, France

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Paul McCartney was awarded the French Legion of Honour, by French president François Hollande, for his services to music.

If the French Republic is honouring you today, it is because you have changed the world – and therefore France. You have a special, particular relationship with our country. Or at least we like to believe so. You like our language and our culture. You sang “Michelle ma belle” in French, yet we have never known who Michelle was. But you have values to which France attaches great importance: the power of culture, the love of languages; that of the power of words and rhythms or images, which give the world reasons to hope. These are the reasons why, today, in the name of the French Republic, I’m going to bestow upon you the distinction of Officer in the Legion of Honour.

French president François Hollande

This is such an honour… I am looking forward to being in the Foreign Legion and doing my stint in the desert, if I understand my duties correctly!

Paul McCartney, learning of the upcoming honour – From, September 7, 2012

From For Whom The Bell Tells, December 31, 2012:

I headed off to Paris in September to watch as Paul was honoured with the National Order of the Legion of Honour by President Francois Hollande. Established by Napoleon in 1802, the award is usually given to French nationals only and past British recipients have included the Queen.

The previous evening, a tanned and relaxed Paul, fresh from his summer break, played host as he dined with friends and family and even treated us to the first listen of his recording of ‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)’.

The following morning, I packed my office backpack (containing laptop, camera, dictaphone, spare phones, chargers, sharpies and copies of ‘KOTB’) and set off to the Palace – a normal day at work then! I feel I have to mention my backpack here as Paul’s right-hand man, John Hammel, is convinced I’m just carrying my sandwiches around!

The palace itself was incredible, teaming with over 300 years of history and buzzing with people – who an aide confided would not normally be working on a Saturday but somehow found an excuse to be in that day! Bang on midday, I could hear the excitement coming from outside the Palace walls and knew that our man was seconds away. Looking very dapper in a sharp suit, Paul was ushered into the ceremonial room and the presentation began. Speaking in French, the President made a genuinely heartfelt speech honouring Paul for his global contribution to the arts and humanity describing him as an “exceptional artist” who has touched the lives of “people of every age, every country and every culture”. Paul reciprocated with a short speech in French saying it was an absolute honour to be accepting the award.

Stuart Bell
From RockerParis – Paul McCartney seconds after receiving the Legion of honour as the rank of Officer from the hand of French President François Hollande @ Elysée.

Last updated on November 6, 2020


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