Watch the hair! And the knees! Queen guitarist Brian May returned to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to be knighted by King Charles III and officially join the order of the British Empire.
As if the founding member of the legendary rock band wasn’t music royalty already.
Although the announcement of the knighthood was made at the end of last year, the investiture ceremony only took place this week at Buckingham Palace. The 75-year-old rocker received the nominal honorific alongside fellow musician YolanDa Brown, who performed for the new king at Monday’s Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey. May chatted and laughed with the king and posed with his medallion after the ceremony.
The esteemed Briton, also an astrophysicist and animal welfare advocate, received the title of knight bachelor “for services to Music and to Charity,” according to the Gazette — the official publication of the British royal family. He is now regarded as Sir Brian May, like many music legends and entertainers before him. A “knight bachelor” does not belong to any particular order and the recognition is simply considered “an appointment” that allows the recipient to adopt the title of “Sir” without post-nominal letters.
May is no stranger to the royal headquarters: The iconic guitar soloist famously performed Britain’s national anthem from the rooftop of Buckingham Palace in 2002 during the late Queen Elizabeth II’s golden jubilee, calling it “a career highlight” in an interview with Britain’s 5 News. He returned for the platinum jubilee — along with singer Adam Lambert — last year.
On Tuesday, the rock veteran returned to the palace to formalize his appointment.
He told the PA news agency (via the Independent ) that he was “smiling ear-to-ear” to be bestowed the title by the king himself.
“We’ve had a certain amount of contact over the years and we’re of an age, so I have a strong feeling for him and it was a lovely moment,” May told the agency. “We discussed the fact that we are of an age and he was wondering if my knees were holding out for the kneeling part of the ceremony. I said: ‘Yes, just about.’”
Indeed, May knelt briefly with the help of a bar while the 74-year-old sword-wielding monarch did the honors.
“To receive this award I suppose feels like getting approval, like when you get a gold star at school — perhaps you’ve done something and you know what you’ve achieved and if you get that seal of approbation from above, then it’s a very good feeling, it’s very special,” May added.
In a December interview with the Associated Press, May acknowledged that he already possessed “a certain amount of power in the world, mainly because of music, obviously. But he he hoped knighthood would give him “a little bit more clout.”
“Maybe a few more people will listen to me than would otherwise, you know, if it’s Sir Brian on the phone,” he quipped.
The “We Will Rock You” songwriter and “Bohemian Rhapsody” musician also teased to the prospect of touring with Queen again. The band, whose origin story was highlighted in the 2018 Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” has continued to tour with glam rocker Lambert in lieu of its late frontman Mercury. (May served as executive music producer on the Oscar-winning movie too.)
“We’re thinking about touring, I can say that,” he told PA. “I’m hoping I stay in good health — at the moment I seem to be in pretty good health, which is always great.”
May said that “it’s not been an easy road” and that there have been “times I thought I would never do it again.”
“But we all seem to be OK so we’re looking at doing some touring, and of course we tour at the top level and it’s very high energy and high demand on your fitness,” he explained. “If we don’t go out until October or whatever I’ll be working on my fitness from now on.”