Paul on Queen Elizabeth II

Photo of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II
8 September 2022

On the sad occasion of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, my memories came flooding back and I would like to share these with you.

I feel privileged to have been alive during the whole of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. When I was 10 years old I entered an essay competition in Liverpool and won my division for my essay about the British Monarchy so I have been a fan for a long time. In 1953 when the Queen was crowned everyone on our street in Speke, Liverpool finally got a television set and we settled down to watch the Coronation in glorious black and white.  

Looking back I am honoured and amazed to see that I met Her Majesty eight or nine times and each time she impressed me with her great sense of humour combined with great dignity. These times were: 

Firstly, when The Beatles got the MBE on 26th October 1965. I remember us being taken aside and shown what the correct protocol was. We were told how to approach Her Majesty and not to talk to her unless she talks to us. For four Liverpool lads, it was, “Wow, hey man.”

Photo of Paul and The Beatles after getting their MBE on 26th October 1965
The Beatles getting their MBEat Buckingham Palace, 26th October 1965

The next time we met was some years later at the Royal Albert Hall on 13th December 1982.  It was at an event Linda and I attended called An Evening for Conservation. Part of the evening included some orchestral re-workings of some Beatles songs and I remember chatting with Her Majesty about them. She also re-introduced me to Prince Philip who said he remembered our previous meeting in the sixties! 

Paul and Linda with HRH Queen Elizabeth at an 'Evening for Conservation', at the Royal Albert Hall
Paul and Linda McCartney meeting Queen Elizabeth at 'An Evening for Conservation' at the Royal Albert Hall, 13th December 1982

Our third meeting would come in the next decade. In June 1996 The Queen graciously agreed to open the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts on the site of my old school that George Harrison and myself attended. She also had previously given a donation which the school was very honoured to receive.

Photo of HRH Queen Elizabeth II with Paul McCartney at the opening of LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts)
Paul and Her Majesty at the official opening of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) during a special visit to the city on Friday 7 June 1996.

Just one year later and our next encounter was a very proud day for me. It was one of the best days ever. I felt very honoured to be offered a Knighthood and of course it would have been rude to turn it down! I remember it was in the springtime and the skies were blue. It was a wonderful day and I remember thinking I’d come a long way from a little terrace house in Liverpool!

Photo of Paul McCartney outside Buckingham Palace receiving his Knighthood
Paul outside Buckingham Palace after receiving his Knighthood on 11th March 1997

It was a new millennium the next time we were together again and what an occasion it was! Celebrating her Golden Jubilee, we got to rock out in her garden. As Her Majesty was on stage receiving applause at the end of the show I joked, ‘Well I suppose this will be happening next year then?’ to which she replied, ‘Not in my garden it won’t!’

Paul on stage behind Queen Elizabeth II
Paul on stage during the Party at the Palace concert in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II - 3rd June 2002

We were to see each other again shortly afterwards, but this time on my home turf! I was very honoured to be given a painting exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, which John and I had visited on many occasions as students. It was my extreme privilege to be able to show Her Majesty around the gallery.

Photo of Paul McCartney and Queen Elizabeth at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool
Paul and Queen Elizabeth at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool on the 25th July 2002

A decade on and Nancy and I attended a special event titled Celebration of the Arts at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and it was a thrill as ever to talk with Her Majesty. 

Photo of Nancy Shevell, Paul McCartney and HRH Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Academy in 2012
Paul and Queen Elizabeth at a Celebration of Arts event at the Royal Academy, 23rd May 2012

On June 4th 2012, The Queen would celebrate her Diamond Jubilee and it was so special in many ways. This was the first time I performed in front of her since her last Jubilee, and seeing all the people stretching down Pall Mall was great, as was meeting other members of the Royal Family afterwards. It was a great weekend to be British.

Photo of HRH Queen Elizabeth, Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Charles and Paul McCartney on stage at the Diamond Jubilee concert
Paul on stage with members of The Royal Family at the Diamond Jubilee concert outside Buckingham Palace. 4th June 2012

Our last meeting came in 2018. Because of my respect and love for the Queen and her fabulous sense of humour when I was given the Companion of Honour medal I shook her hand, leaned in and said, ‘We have got to stop meeting like this,’ to which she giggled slightly and got on with the ceremony. I did wonder if I was a bit too cheeky after saying this, after all this was The Queen, but I have a feeling she didn’t mind.

Photo of Queen Elizabeth II giving Paul McCartney he Companion of Honour at Buckingham Palace
Paul receiving the Companion of Honour at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace. 4th May 2018

God bless you. You will be missed.

⁠- Paul