John Lennon’s letter to the Queen discovered in record sleeve

The Beatle wrote to the monarch in 1969 to return his MBE

A letter written by John Lennon in 1969 to the Queen that explained his decision to return his MBE has been discovered in a record sleeve.

Lennon initially received the honour along with his fellow Beatles in 1965, but decided to return it four years later in protest against British involvement in the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70), as well as the country’s support of the US-led conflict in Vietnam.

As BBC News reports, the letter was found by its anonymous owner inside the sleeve of a record that was part of a collection of 45s that was bought for £10 at a car boot sale 20 years ago. The owner, who discovered the letter in his attic, took it to The Beatles Story exhibition in Liverpool on Wednesday (October 26) for valuation, where it was estimated to be worth £60,000.


The letter – which one expert believes is a draft Lennon made of the letter he actually sent in 1969, which currently resides in the royal archives – reads:

Your majesty,

I am returning this MBE in 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.

With love,

John Lennon, of Bag

Music memorabilia expert Darren Julien told the BBC that he believes the newly-discovered letter was never sent because of the smeared ink on the letter.


“If you’re writing to the Queen, you want the letter to look pretty perfect, you don’t want the ink to be smudged. This suggests that he wrote a second version of the letter, which was the one that was actually sent.”

See the letter over at The Beatles Story here.