"He said, 'What do you think, boys?' I had no problem with it - none of us had any problems with it in the beginning. We all thought it was really thrilling. We're going to meet the Queen and she's going to give us a badge. I thought, 'This is cool'" -Ringo StarrThe Beatles arrived at Buckingham Palace at 11 o'clock in the morning, driving in John's Rolls Royce on October 26, 1965 (48 years ago today). 4,000 fans stood around the palace waiting for them as they walked in. They were met by guards who told them how to walk, don't speak to the queen unless spoken to and all of that.
"The queen was great. Obviously I'm a big Queen fan now. It was obvious she was doing her best to make everyone feel relax and not nervous. When she gave me my medal, she said, 'It's a pleasure to present you with this,' and I said, 'Thank You.'"-Ringo StarrJohn remembers his as,
"I must have looked shattered. She said to me, 'Have you been working hard lately?' I couldn't think what we had been doing, so I said, 'No, we've been having a holiday.' We'd been recording, but I couldn't remember that."On June 12, 1965 The Beatles were interviewed about their MBEs. John arrived at the conference 70 minutes late. Brian had came to his house in Weybridge to get him and take him to the conference.
"I set the alarm for 8 o'clock and then I just laid there. I thought, 'well, if anyone wants me, they'll phone me' The phone went lots of time, but that's the one I never answer. My own phone didn't go at all, so I just laid there." -John LennonThe Beatles were placed in front of 150 reporters at 1:30 in the afternoon and were asked many questions ranging from, "Do you think you deserve these medals?" where George replied,
"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".Others like "Why would you be honored this way?", "Do you think Cliff Richard should have got an MBE too?', "What are you going to do with your medals?".
"Hang it on the wall."-George Harrison
"Tuck it around my neck."-Ringo Starr
"Keep it in a safe place."- Paul McCartney
"I think I'll have mine made into a bell push so that people have to press it when they come to the house or I'll take it to an antique dealer and find out what it is."- John LennonThey were then asked how they found out about them getting the MBEs, were George explained that Paul was going through fan mail and saw an letter that read "From the Prime Minister". McCartney opened the envelope and saw that he was being honored by the queen and was asked to sign a form. The others were all looking around seeing if they got a letter too and sure enough they found theirs. The boys weren't sure what MBEs stood for and when they first read the letter and saw MBE they thought that it just meant, Mr. Brian Epstein.
In 1970 John made a comment that the group had smoked a joint in the palace bathrooms before the ceremony. George later came out denying the statement.
On November 25, 1969 John Lennon had returned his medal in protest of the Vietnam War. He returned the medal in its original casing along with a hand written letter saying,"We never smoked marijuana at the investiture. What happened was we were waiting to go through, standing in an enormous line with hundreds of people, and we were so nervous that we went to the toilet. And in there we smoked a cigarette - we were all smokers in those days.
Years later, I'm sure John was thinking back and remembering, 'Oh yes, we went in the toilet and smoked,' and it turned into a reefer. Because what could be the worst thing you could do before you meet the Queen? Smoke a reefer! But we never did."
Bag being a company he had just opened with Yoko Ono. He later states that he consulted with The Beatles before returning it and only took it because he was persuaded to by Brian."Your Majesty,
I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against 'Cold Turkey' slipping down the charts.
With love. John Lennon of Bag"
"It was hypocritical of me to accept it, but I"m glad, really, that I did - because it meant that four years later I could use it to make a gesture." -John Lennon, 1970The medals reappeared two years later, when The Beatles released Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, where you can clearly see Paul and George both wearing their awards on their suits. John wears six medals that he borrowed from Beatles original drummer, Pete Best's mother, Mona. The Beatles use to play the Casbah, a club in the basement of the Best's and asked Mona if he could borrow six military medals that were said to either be Pete's father and dated to World War II or to Major Thomas Shaw, Pete's grandfather, in which case the medals would not be dated to World War II. Ringo were six mini pins, very similar to John's.