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After watching a tantalizing but toothless BBC documentary on the English aristocracy, my musing mind wondered: what was the relationship between the Beatles and the aristocracy? I’m not talking about professional contact — not “rattle your jewelry” or the MBE — but what John, Paul, George and Ringo felt personally.
The more I think about it, the more I’m surprised at how little public contact there seems to have been between the Beatles and the aristocracy, especially given the high/low mixing that Swinging London was known for. I know that Seltaeb was run by Horse Guards‘ own Nicky Byrne (and one of the investors was Peregrine Eliot, the Tenth Earl of St. Germans), but the Beatles and entourage seem to be uncommonly free from English upper-class helpers or hangers-on. I remember the Fabs being very put off by how they were treated by David Ormsby-Gore and the rest at the Embassy party in 1964 (Ringo lost a chunk of hair, remember). But surely in the white-heat of Wilson’s classless Britain, the Beatles must’ve attracted some young Lords and Baronesses — if only for the high-quality drugs about.
Even detractors seem suspiciously thin on the ground. Who am I forgetting? Surely England’s version of William F. Buckley felt the sky was falling, just as ours did? Conservatives everywhere loathed the Beatles, even more than the Stones, because the Beatles were sneaky. Lennon gleefully agreed. “In a way we’d turned out to be a ‘Trojan Horse.’ The Fab Four moved right to the top and then sang about drugs and sex and then I got more and more into the heavy stuff and that’s when [the straight society] started dropping us.”
You’d think John Lennon would’ve had some particularly piquant public statements about Britain’s aristocracy, but none are springing to mind. And perhaps there’s a good reason for this: for all of John’s power-to-the-peopling, he had a definite snobbish streak (he was, after all, as much Mimi’s son as Julia’s). And when he died, Lennon had set a team of genealogists looking for royalty in the old Lennon/Stanley lines.
Help me out here, Beatle hive-mind: what was the relationship between the Beatles and the aristocracy?