Why No Sir George Harrison?

I get Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John, but why no Sir George Harrison, Sir Richard Starkey or Sir John Lennon?

Okay, neither George or John were living in the UK when they died, and I don’t believe that Ringo lives in the UK now, but Sir Elton spends as much or more time living outside of the UK as he does living there.

I assume you have to be a British citizen to be knighted, which I believe all of the Beatles were/are.

Must you be alive and still living in the UK to receive a knighthood or is it more complicated than that?

One too many songs about the taxman.

I’ve heard that knighthood cannot be awarded posthumously. If so, then Lennon and Harrison have missed the boat.

I’m in the minority but I’m still waiting on Sir William Regal.

Lennon returned his OBE in 1969, so I’m thinking he probably wouldn’t have cared.

How knighthoods are dished out does at times seem rather arbitrary. Aside from certain government and business positions which seem to get them automatically (e.g. I ‘think’ all British ambassadors get one), they tend to get dished out at the whim of whatever government is in power and, for entertainers, for doing something spectacular. Just being in a rock band, however big, probably doesn’t warrant it, but being part of arguably the finest songwriting duo of a generation does. I think there’s no question that had Lennon lived, he would’ve got one when McCartney did, but they aren’t awarded posthumously.

You don’t need to be a British resident to get one, or even British. You have to be a citizen of a country that has the Queen as Head of State, so you could be Australian, for instance. I believe Canada has a law which disallows it’s citizens from accepting such titles. Foreign citizens can be awarded an honorary knighthood, which entitles the holder to put letters after their name (e.g. KBE) but doesn’t carry the right to be titled ‘Sir’. Bill Gates has one, for instance.

Bob Geldof has an honorary knighthood, and is often referred to as Sir Bob, which is incorrect as he’s an Irish citizen.

It isn’t compulsory to accept an honour. I think that it is reasonable to assume that someone who is distinguished in one field or another who hasn’t got a gong, has turned one down.

I mean Elton John is a knight, David Bowie isn’t. Bowie will have been offered all kinds of things.

From what I understand, they make sure you will accept it before they offer it. Bowie has refused twice according to Wikipedia.

According to Wiki, Bowie turned down a knighthood in 2003.

The OBE he returned in 1969 was awarded to all of them in 1965, so George Harrison was knighted.

They were each made Members of the Order of the British Empire. It’s several ranks below knighthood.

Quite so. There are a myriad of honours dished out by her Maj of varying levels of superiority. A knighthood is one of the highest honours, but there are many below which grant you letters after your name but not a title (bit like the difference between a BA and a PhD). MBE is fairly low down the list. David Beckham is actually David Beckham MBE. He’ll have to wait a bit for the knighthood which he will inevitably get one day.

Must … resist … comment …

To distract myself: I’ll chime in that I’m sure that Stephen Hawking was offered a knighthood several times and refused, but my Google-fu is failing me.

Did Sir Paul not return his OBE in 1969?

Not that I know of.

According to this he has indeed turned one down, although he has accepted a Companion of Honour, a pretty elite club for which he gets CH after his name. So he obviously just doesn’t want to be called ‘Sir Stephen’.

It would be interesting to know if Ringo turned down knighthood or was simply passed over.

CH, and even more so OM are the best honours

While Lennon had lived in the U.S. for much (if not all) of the decade or so before he died, George had continued to live in England. He owned Friar Park, a manor in Henley-on-Thames. Several of his music videos, including “Crackerbox Palace”, were filmed there, the cover photo for his album “All Things Must Pass” was shot there, and it was there where he was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant in 1999.

While it’s true that Harrison died in the U.S. (in a house in the Hollywood Hills), and he spent some of the last year of his life away from England pursuing treatment for his cancer (including in Switzerland, New York, and the Mayo Clinic), it doesn’t look to me as if he was truly an expatriate.

From a discussion I heard just last week on BBC radio when the New Year’s Honours List was published, it appears he has, so far, simply been passed over.