Paul McCartney says Queen Elizabeth “looked like a film star” to “pre-teen boys in Liverpool”
Queen Elizabeth II signaled a new dawn in 1953. For the first time, television cameras would be allowed inside Westminster Abbey to broadcast a royal coronation.
“Till then we hadn’t had a television,” Sir Paul McCartney said in the CBS Special “The Queen Carries On: A Gayle King Special.” “And me and my younger brother were always begging our parents, ‘Can we get a TV?’ … Well then suddenly for the coronation, everyone got one.”
Across Britain, 27 million people tuned in, including McCartney, who had also written a prize-winning essay about the young queen.
As young boys watching the coronation, McCartney and his brother “were genuinely excited because when we’d grown up, we’d had a king,” he said. “And then suddenly, this young woman was having to take that job. And there hadn’t been a sort of queen in our lifetime.”
As Elizabeth was growing into her royal reign, McCartney picked up a guitar – and held onto his youthful fascination with the queen.
“We thought she was a good-looking woman,” he told King.
“Like a babe, good looking?” King asked.
“Just like a babe,” McCartney said. “We were pre-teen boys in Liverpool. … She looked like a film star to us.”
McCartney didn’t think he would ever get to meet the queen.
“Cause we’re just working-class boys and she’s the queen, so there’s an ocean or two between us,” he said. “So I never thought I would. Until we became the Beatles and we got rather famous.”
The queen was clearly in tune with these times. Her majesty understood that the Beatles were the hottest British export since Shakespeare.
She was criticized for it, but in 1965, the queen made them the first rock stars to be honored at Buckingham Palace.
“And your big swanky car pulls through the palace gates. And you’re inside,” McCartney recalled.
McCartney said they were told “to not shake her hand; to call her ‘mam,’ not ‘Your Majesty’; and you know, if she stops on the line and talks to you, talk to her. … Otherwise shut up.”
McCartney, who described the queen as “very down to Earth,” would go on to interact with her on a number of occasions, and she knighted him in 1997.
“What does it mean to you to be Sir Paul McCartney?” King asked.
“You know what it’s like? It’s like a great school prize. It’s an honor,” he said. “I mean you sense you’re being made a part of history.”
McCartney returned the favor with the classic song from Abbey Road.
“I like the idea of treating her as something ordinary, as like a girl, you know?” he said. “I just started singing about, ‘Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl … But she doesn’t have a lot to say.'”
He got to perform the song for the queen at her Golden Jubilee celebrating 50 years on the throne.
Even without all the honors from the queen, McCartney said he “would still be very proud of her ’cause I just think she does a great job.”