It finally happened: after years of campaigning from fans, Ringo Starr has officially been knighted. The announcement was made in the New Year’s Honours List, with the investiture ceremony taking place at Buckingham Palace last week. Ringo is of course no stranger to the Queen’s digs, having accepted an MBE there in 1965 with his bandmates, but this knighthood is long overdue.
Most Beatles fans are understandably delighted that Ringo has joined Paul McCartney in the ‘Sir’ club. But there are also those who question the relevance of these honours in the first place, or the idea that rock stars should be deserving of knighthoods. Here’s my two cents.
I’m not going to get too deep into the issue of the monarchy and whether or not it’s an outdated institution, but I do think that Ringo’s knighthood is a symbol of all that he’s achieved over the years. It’s similar to the way that induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not taken very seriously, yet it’s still appreciated by many of the artists as a sign of recognition for their work. Let’s not forget that lots of people were outraged when The Beatles received their MBEs in 1965, but that too was an indication of the impact they’d already made on popular music and culture in general.
Paul was knighted in 1997, a year after George Martin received the same honour. Ever since then, fans have been asking why Ringo wasn’t afforded the same recognition. Regardless of what you think about the honours system, the fact that one surviving Beatle was knighted surely meant it was proper order that the other should be too. And yet it took almost two decades for that to happen. In the meantime, seemingly everyone else in music got there first.
Ringo himself seemed delighted about the whole thing, having previously adopted an ‘if it happens, it happens’ kind of approach:
“It means a lot, actually. It means recognition for the things we’ve done. I was really pleased to accept this.”
He spoke about missing John and George, and how he wished they could be there too. He also said he’d reminisced with Paul over dinner, and they could scarcely believe they’d come from such humble beginnings in Liverpool to being Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Richard Starkey. That sums it up right there.
As for whether John and George would have been knighted had they lived, we’ll never know. You can bet the offer would have been extended, but it’s impossible to know whether either of them would have accepted (given that John famously returned his MBE and George apparently turned down an OBE). But one thing’s for sure: they would have deserved it, as Ringo does.
He’s a Beatle, after all, and to me that’s worth every honour going. Congratulations Ringo!