Like anything Mick Jagger does, the lead singer of The Rolling Stones would find some serious detractors when in 2003 he was put up for a knighthood. Sir Michael Philip Jagger had two main issues when receiving his honour; the first was Keith Richards and the second was Queen Elizabeth II herself.
Stories of Jagger’s off-stage anarchy has been well-publicised and it may go down as the reason it was rumoured Queen Elizabeth deliberately avoided Jagger’s knighting ceremony—but there were allegedly a lot more personal reasons than that.
Now the chances are that you feel a certain kind of way about rock stars receiving—or being awarded—knighthoods. Perhaps you think that a rock star, and a rather debauched one at that, shouldn’t receive such a glittering appraisal. Or, perhaps, you think that no self-respecting rocker would want one. However you cut it, Jagger is now a knight of the realm.
One man who didn’t take too kindly to the ordeal was none other than bandmate and longtime songwriting partner, Keith Richards. “I thought it was ludicrous to take one of those gongs from the establishment when they did their very best to throw us in jail and kill us at one time,” Keith told Uncut in reference to the numerous drugs busts the band were subjected to.
It wasn’t just a grudge though, Richards didn’t think the two parties should intertwine. “It’s not what the Stones is about, is it? I don’t want to step on stage with someone wearing a fucking coronet and sporting the old ermine.” Jagger though felt Richards was just sour about the announcement, saying, “It’s like children being given an ice cream — one gets one and they all want one.”
Many people at the time believed that Jagger shouldn’t have been such a lucky to child to have his own cone, including Queen Elizabeth herself. The Queen was rumoured to be utterly disappointed with the selection of Jagger for a knighthood. Propelled by Tony Blair and his insistence on ringing his idea of ‘Cool Britannia’ entirely dry, Jagger’s selection met strong opposition, with Queen Elizabeth II reportedly replying to the initial selection with two words: “not suitable”
Not only was Jagger a foremost advocate for the underbelly of society he had also openly spoken out against the monarchy and even called Her Royal Highness “chief witch.” It was enough to put the Queen on high alert. While officially the Queen was due for surgery at the time of the event, rumours swirled that she deliberately missed out on the engagement to avoid Jagger.
That revelation came in the 2012 unauthorised biography Mick: the Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger. In the book, the salacious Christopher Andersen quotes a royal aide saying “there was absolutely no way in the world that [Queen Elizabeth] was going to take part in that.” But there was one more rumoured reason for the Queen’s dismissal of Jagger.
According to reports, Jagger had enjoyed a relationship with Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret. The Queen’s sister had garnered a reputation for a party lifestyle and by all accounts Jagger was at times a part of her group of friends, dining with one another and generally enjoying one another’s company. It has always led to rumours that Margaret and Mick were having an affair.
The likelihood is that all the reasons compiled together make for one good reason that Queen Elizabeth could turn her nose up at Sir Mick’s inclusion in such a historic honour. It would leave Jagger’s reputation in tatters and question marks over his career. We’re not sure Jagger would want it any other way.