After twenty years of being denied knighthood because of his political views and scandalous sex life, Chaplin was finally given the honor in an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on March 4th, 1975.
|Sir Charles, wearing the insignia of the K.B.E., surrounded by his family in his suite at the Savoy Hotel
following the ceremony. L-R: son-in-law Nicholas Sistovaris (Josephine’s husband), Annette, Josephine,
CC, Oona, Christopher, Geraldine, and Jane.
The following description of the investiture is from The Washington Post, March 5th, 1975:
The 85-year-old maestro of films had been anxious to kneel before Queen Elizabeth II for his investiture and to follow her command afterward to “arise, Sir Charles Chaplin.” He was not physically able to do either. He sat in a wheelchair in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace and merely bowed his head in acknowledgement of the taps of her ceremonial sword.
It was the queen who made the comedian smile. She complimented him and squeezed his hand, but Sir Charles, as he told reporters later, was “too dumbfoundcd to talk” to her. He said she had thanked him for his work and told him that she had seen many of his films.
After the tension of the ceremony, at which 172 people received royal honors, Sir Charles was able to stand up again and even to wave his cane in triumph at the gathered crowds outside. He also gave Lady Chaplin, the former Oona O’Neill, hearty kisses on both cheeks.
Then he was asked what he had planned for the rest of the memorable day. “Getting drunk,” said Sir Charles.
The hardships he had encountered as a London slum child, and the hatreds he had inspired as a Hollywood star for his sex life and his politics, seemed to have been formally stilled by the tap of the sword.
But Sir Charles bristled when it was suggested that his knighthood was the culmination of his long career. “l’ve got one more film to do,” he declared. “lt will be entitled ‘The Freak,’ he said.