Brian May has been knighted at Buckingham Palace – and joked with the King about his knees holding out during the ceremony.
The Queen guitarist, who is behind some of the biggest and best-known riffs and solos in popular music, on songs such as We Will Rock You, Bohemian Rhapsody and One Vision, also revealed the band could tour again later in 2023.
Sir Brian, 75, was recognised for his services to music and charity, and attended with his wife, Anita Dobson.
“I am very happy, smiling from ear to ear, particularly because it was the King, which means a lot,” he said after the ceremony. “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.”
At 74, the King is a year younger than the musician.
“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’,” he said.
“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.”
Queen have performed with US star Adam Lambert since 2011, as well as with other singers, following the death of frontman Freddie Mercury.
Sir Brian suffered a heart attack in 2020 but says he has been in good health since.
“We’re thinking about touring, I can say that,” the star said. “I’m hoping I stay in good health – at the moment I seem to be in pretty good health, which is always great. It’s not been an easy road and there’s been times I thought I would never do it again.
“But we all seem to be okay 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. If we don’t go out until October or whatever I’ll be working on my fitness from now on.”
This wasn’t the first visit to Buckingham Palace for Sir Brian, who performed during the Golden Jubilee in 2002, playing a solo guitar version of God Save The Queen from the roof.
Last year, he performed at the Platinum Jubilee – in a set that saw the Queen tapping the beat of We Will Rock You on to a teacup at the end of a famous sketch featuring Paddington Bear. The late monarch’s intro led into a live performance of the song.
Sir Brian, who is also an astrophysicist and animal welfare advocate, was recognised alongside former Treasury permanent secretary Sir Tom Scholar, who becomes a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath; the UK’s ambassador in Kyiv, Dame Melinda Simmons, who received a damehood for her services to British foreign policy; and saxophonist and broadcaster YolanDa Brown, who was made an OBE for services to music, music education and to broadcasting.