John Lennon Returned an Honor From Queen Elizabeth Over Britain’s Messy Politics

John Lennon gained a reputation as a member of the Beatles, quickly becoming an icon of 60s culture. As a talented singer and songwriter, Lennon eventually gained recognition as one of the most politically conscious members of the group, unafraid to speak in his mind, whatever the outcome.

Even after the defeat of the Beatles, Lennon remained politically active and involved in the peace movement. At times, Lennon ‘s enthusiasm for his ideas meant that he had to spoil some feathers – and once, he even shook his nose at the honor that Queen Elizabeth had bestowed on her.

John Lennon (1940 - 1980) at a press conference at London Airport after the Beatles returned from Manila.
John Lennon George Stroud / Express / Getty Photos

John Lennon was one of the most popular members in the Beatles

Lennon was born in Liverpool in 1940, and was one of the founding members of the group known as the Beatles. As a good witch as well as the group’s “director”, Lennon often made headlines for what he said.

Throughout the 1960s, the Beatles released after being beaten, creating the soundtrack that would inspire generations of people around the world.

Lennon was a writer and creative thinker. He published several books of poetry and art during his time with the Beatles, and beginning in the late sixties, he became opposed to the anti-war movement.

In 1970, the Beatles disbanded, but Lennon was less popular than he was in his day, releasing new songs and forming a musical alliance with his partner, Yoko Ono. Lennon and Ono created over a dozen albums, and while they didn’t always get a good idea, their artistic lyrics, inspired by culture, were hugely popular with fans.

When did the Beatles get their MBE medals?

In 1965, when the Beatles were still at their most popular, they were honored with one of the greatest distinctions a British citizen could have. Forward October 26, 1965, Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr all on a trip to Buckingham Palace to receive individual Member medals of the Order of Excellence of the British Empire (MBE), presented by Queen Elizabeth herself.

Although the decision to award MBE medals to the Beatles was highly controversial at the time, as rock and roll music was still very popular in Britain, thousands of fans were supportive of the honor. For years, a wild rumor circulated that members of the band were so anxious before receiving the medals from Queen Elizabeth that they smoked marijuana beforehand.

Why did John Lennon return his MBE?

Most rock stars would be delighted to receive such high honors from the British monarch. However, four years after he was originally awarded an MBE, Lennon decided he didn’t want it after all.

according to People, Lennon became dissatisfied with British politics in the late 1960s and returned his prize. “I return my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra affair, against our support for America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slowing down the records,” Lennon wrote in a letter accompanying the award.

Around the time he returned the medal, Lennon went on the record saying he had never wanted the medal in the first place: “It was all part of the game we had agreed to played. We would have nothing to lose except the few who said you didn’t believe in it. I really think the Queen believes in it all. She must. ”

There is no doubt that Lennon would have continued to shake things up well into later years – however, Lennon was killed to death by Mark David Chapman in 1980, when he remains prime minister. However, Lennon remains an image of peace for fans around the world.

Scroll to Top