Behind the Meaning of The Beatles’ Ode to the Queen “Her Majesty”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Originally, Paul McCartney wrote “Her Majesty” as a 23-second track that would be weaved into the 16-plus minute medley—beginning with “You Never Give Me Your Money” and continuing with “Sun King,” “Mean Mr. Mustard,” “Polythene Pam,” “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight” and “The End” —taking up a larger portion on the second half of The Beatles’11th album Abbey Road.

Written by McCartney while he was in Scotland, “Her Majesty” was initially sandwiched between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam” but was pulled out of the medley by the Beatle altogether.

The Shortest Beatles Song Ever Recorded

Running as the shortest song ever recorded by The Beatles at 25 seconds, “Her Majesty” was originally unlisted on the tracklist of earlier Abbey Road pressings.

At Abbey Road, the song was simply recorded in three takes on July 2, 1969, with McCartney singing live on an acoustic guitar prior to the band’s recording of the Abbey tracks “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight.”

“Her Majesty” Was Nearly Tossed

When the band decided which songs would end up on the medley, McCartney decided that “Her Majesty” no longer fit. Reordering the songs in the medley, McCartney asked the tape operator John Kurlander to pull it out and toss it.

“We did all the remixes and crossfades to overlap the songs, Paul was there, and we heard it together for the first time,” said Kurlander. “He said, ‘I don’t like ‘Her Majesty,’ throw it away.’”

Instead of throwing the song away, Kurlander kept it and plugged it into the end of the reel, placing a piece of tape separating it from the remainder of the album. 

“I’d been told never to throw anything away, so after he left I picked it up off the floor put about 20 seconds of red leader tape before it, and stuck it onto the end of the edit tape,” shared Kurlander. “The next day, down at Apple, Malcolm Davies cut a playback lacquer of the whole sequence, and even though I’d written on the box that ‘Her Majesty’ was unwanted, he too thought, ‘We mustn’t throw anything away, I’ll put it on at the end.'”

“Her Majesty” soon grew on McCartney as well, according to Kurlander. “I’m only assuming this, but when Paul got that lacquer he must have liked hearing ‘Her Majesty’ tacked on the end,” said Kurlander. “The Beatles always picked up on accidental things. It came as a nice little surprise there at the end, and he didn’t mind. We never remixed ‘Her Majesty’ again, that was the mix which ended up on the finished LP.”

A “Love” Song to Queen Elizabeth

Not as unfavorable as some songs about the Queen and monarch that would surface over the decades, the meaning behind “Her Majesty” had more levity and plays as McCartney’s cheeky love song to Elizabeth. 

Her Majesty is a pretty nice girl
But she doesn’t have a lot to say
Her Majesty is a pretty nice girl
But she changes from day to day

I wanna tell her that I love her a lot
But I gotta get a belly full of wine
Her Majesty is a pretty nice girl
Someday I’m gonna make her mine, oh yeah
Someday I’m gonna make her mine

The End

Following a 14-second moment of silence after “The End,” “Her Majesty” begins and closes out the entirety of Abbey Road.

“That was very much how things happened,” said McCartney. “Really, you know, the whole of our career was like that, so it’s a fitting end.”

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