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George Harrison Reportedly Refused OBE Honor Before his Death

The Beatles' George Harrison
apparently turned down his chance at a royal honor in Great Britain shortly before his death.

Via government documents obtained by using the Freedom of Information Act, Britain's Mail On Sunday newspaper discovered that Harrison was offered an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire as part of the Queen's 2000 New Year's Honour List.

The award was suggested by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which praised Harrison as “a member of a band that many people would say is the best thing that Britain has ever produced, and possible the best in the world.”

Harrison turned down the honor, however, and British journalist Ray Connolly, who's written extensively about the Beatles, told the newspaper that it was likely because bandmate Paul McCartney had received a knighthood three years' earlier:

“Whoever it was who decided to offer him the OBE and not the knighthood was extraordinarily insensitive. George would have felt insulted -- and with very good reason.”

All four Beatles were given Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire honors (MBE) in 1965; John Lennon famously returned his in 1969 “as a protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against 'Cold Turkey' slipping down the charts.”