Year
1997
Month Day
March 11

Paul McCartney knighted

On March 11, 1997, Paul McCartney, a former member of the most successful rock band in history, The Beatles, is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his “services to music.” 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. Linda McCartney would succumb to cancer 13 months later on April 17, 1998.

As for the then-surviving Beatles, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, Sir Paul said that since they learned that he would be knighted, “They call me ‘Your Holiness.'” McCartney dedicated his knighthood to fellow Beatles George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon and the people of the northwestern port of Liverpool. In October 1965, McCartney, along with fellow band members John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, collected MBE (Member of the British Empire) medals, much to the shock of the British establishment. Lennon, who returned his MBE in 1969 as a war protest, was assassinated in New York in 1980. Harrison would also succumb to cancer, passing away on November 29, 2001.

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.

McCartney formed the group Wings after the Beatles split up in 1970, and made records with stars like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder before trying his hand at composing classical music. “The first time I really ever felt a tingle up my spine was when I saw Bill Haley and The Comets on the telly,” McCartney once said. “Then I went to see them live. The ticket was 24 shillings, and I was the only one of my mates who could go as no one else had been able to save up that amount. But I was single-minded about it. I knew there was something going on here.”

Tags
terms:
The Beatles

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

President Trump addresses the nation on COVID-19; announces travel ban

In a primetime Oval Office address, President Donald Trump announces a 30-day travel ban on foreign travel to the U.S. from most European countries as COVID-19 cases surge across the globe. Trump's TV address came the same day the World Health Organization officially declared the ...read more

Fukushima nuclear disaster

On March 11, 2011, the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan causes massive devastation, and the ensuing tsunami decimates the Tōhoku region of northeastern Honshu. On top of the already-horrific destruction and loss of life, the natural disaster also gives rise to a nuclear ...read more

General MacArthur leaves Corregidor

After struggling against great odds to save the Philippines from Japanese conquest, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur abandons the island fortress of Corregidor under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt. Left behind at Corregidor and on the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American ...read more

Terrorists bomb trains in Madrid

On March 11, 2004, 193 people are killed and nearly 2,000 are injured when 10 bombs explode on four trains in three Madrid-area train stations during a busy morning rush hour. The bombs were later found to have been detonated by mobile phones. The attacks, the deadliest against ...read more

Confederate constitution adopted

In Montgomery, Alabama, delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas adopt the Permanent Constitution of the Confederate States of America. The constitution resembled the Constitution of the United States, even repeating much of its ...read more

Toyota sells 1 millionth hybrid in U.S.

The Toyota Motor Company announces on March 11, 2009 that it has sold over 1 million gas-electric hybrid vehicles in the U.S. under its six Toyota and Lexus brands. The sales were led by the Prius, the world’s first mass-market hybrid car, which was launched in Japan in October ...read more

Lawrence Welk is born

For the generation that grew up on the big bands of the '30s and '40s, The Lawrence Welk Show was a blessed island of calm in a world gone mad for rock and roll, and it aired like clockwork every Saturday night from 1955 to 1982.  But for the children and grandchildren watching ...read more

Great Blizzard of ’88 hits East Coast

On March 11, 1888, one of the worst blizzards in American history strikes the Northeast, killing more than 400 people and dumping as much as 55 inches of snow in some areas. New York City ground to a near halt in the face of massive snow drifts and powerful winds from the storm. ...read more

“Cops” makes TV debut

On March 11, 1989, Cops, a documentary-style television series that follows police officers and sheriff’s deputies as they go about their jobs, debuts on Fox. Cops went on to become one of the longest-running shows in television history. It went off the air in 2020.  The show, ...read more

Mikhail Gorbachev picked to succeed Konstantin Chernenko

Capping his rapid rise through the Communist Party hierarchy, Mikhail Gorbachev is selected as the new general secretary of the Soviet Union, following the death of Konstantin Chernenko the day before. Gorbachev oversaw a radical transformation of Soviet society and foreign ...read more

Congress establishes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

On March 11, 1779, Congress establishes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help plan, design and prepare environmental and structural facilities for the U.S. Army. Made up of civilian workers, members of the Continental Army and French officers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ...read more