When it comes to rock and roll frontmen, there have been plenty who have grown their fame to enormous heights, but perhaps none who have ever achieved the same level of stardom as Mick Jagger. Despite not exactly being what you might call a “loyal subject” of the Queen, has Jagger ever been knighted?
Mick Jagger was knighted and became Sir Mick Jagger in 2003. Unlike many others who have received the honor, Jagger was initially not perceived as “deserving” of the knighthood.
Nobody is likely to try and argue against or deny the transformative effect that Jagger had on not only rock and roll but music in general, but even with that accolade to his name, those kinds of accomplishments are generally not sufficient enough to receive a knighthood.
So, what exactly led to Jagger getting knighted, and how well did the news go down with his contemporaries?
A sex symbol with a gaggle of screaming women hurling themselves at his feet, and a generation of imitators seeking to capture some of the Jagger magic, he’s not exactly the stereotypical knighthood candidate.
To members of any manner of traditional establishment, Jagger was pretty much the living, singing embodiment of hedonism and indulgence. That doesn’t mean that he is uncharitable or unkind, but he has never really had any particularly philanthropic or “noble” pursuits in his career.
That last one isn’t necessarily required to receive a knighthood, but it’s usually a big help. Instead, the story is that Tony Blair pushed to have Jagger knighted on the back of his “Cool Britannia” movement.
Apparently, that extra little shove did the trick because Jagger did receive his knighthood, even though there was a long list of objections. So many that Jagger’s knighting has probably been one of the most controversial in history.
None of Jagger’s fellow musicians to be knighted by the Queen have ever faced the kind of backlash that Jagger was receiving at the time.
Richards vs. Sir Jagger
Long before anybody else had voiced their displeasure with Jagger’s knighthood, it was bandmate Keith Richards who was most vocal. Richards almost lost his mind at the news, apparently “going berserk.”
It seems like one of the most common curses that the rock star can have, the inability to see eye-to-eye with your bandmates. In this case, the disagreement was born of a fundamental disagreement on what The Rolling Stones represented, and with Richards stating that it is “not what the Stones are about.”
In a way, you can sympathize with where Richards was coming from. From Richards’ perspective, the band had been warring with the establishment for years, and getting a knighthood from the very same institution you had railed against simply made no sense.
Jagger, on the other hand, had no such qualms about the entire situation, and happily accepted the knighthood. To Richards, he simply waved a dismissive hand and likened him to a child who didn’t get given an ice-cream.
Richards had more support than he might have expected on the issue of Jagger’s knighthood, and from a place that he likely didn’t expect it. The Queen herself was entirely in agreement with his perspective on Jagger becoming a Sir.
A Queen’s Dismay
Even if we put the life of debauchery that the Queen probably didn’t have too favorable a view of aside, there’s a litany of other reasons that she opposed Jagger joining the ranks of Knights.
Some are a little more opaque than others, such as the relationship between Jagger and Princess Margaret. The Queen or her aides have obviously never officially commented on whether or not that was an issue, but the rumor mill certainly couldn’t resist something that potentially juicy.
Probably the biggest contributor to her dismay with the entire situation was the fact that Jagger had previously called her “chief witch” and had pretty much nothing good to say about the monarchy.
With that in mind, it’s maybe hard to blame her for avoiding having anything to do with the ceremony. Apparently, when asked about the potential of him being knighted, she simply responded with a brutally short “not suitable.” Ouch.