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Report: George Harrison Once Turned Down UK's Prestigious OBE Honor

Image courtesy of Courtesy of George Harrison (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Courtesy of George Harrison (via ABC News Radio)

As a member of The Beatles , George Harrison was awarded a prestigious MBE medal from Queen Elizabeth II in 1965, but newly unveiled documents reveal that the rock legend turned down the chance to receive an even higher honor from the British monarch shortly before he died.  According to government papers obtained by U.K. newspaper The Mail on Sunday , Harrison was in line to be made an OBE -- which stands for "Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire" -- as part of the Queen's annual New Year Honours List in 2000, but he declined the offer, which he called "insensitive."

While Harrison didn't reveal the reason why he turned down the OBE, sources who knew him speculate that the famed musician may have felt insulted because his old band mate Paul McCartney had been awarded a more prestigious honor, a knighthood, by the Queen in 1997.  During his years with the Fab Four, Harrison's own compositional talents often were overshadowed by the band's main songwriters -- McCartney and the late John Lennon .

The U.K.'s Department for Culture, Media and Sport had recommended George receive the OBE in honor of his contributions to show business.  An OBE is one level higher than an MBE, which signifies a "Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire."

Incidentally, Lennon sent his own MBE back to the Queen in 1969 as a protest against Britain's involvement in an African military conflict.

Harrison died from cancer in November 2001 at the age of 58.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio