Having failed to get married in Paris a few days earlier, John Lennon and Yoko Ono chartered an aeroplane to Gibraltar, on the advice of Apple employee Peter Brown.
We chose Gibraltar because it is quiet, British and friendly. We tried everywhere else first. I set out to get married on the car ferry and we would have arrived in France married, but they wouldn’t do it. We were no more successful with cruise ships. We tried embassies, but three weeks’ residence in Germany or two weeks’ in France were required.
They went directly to the British Consulate Office, where they were married during a 10-minute ceremony performed by registrar Cecil Wheeler. As Gibraltar was a British colony, and Lennon was a British citizen, and they were able to go ahead at short notice.
So we were in Paris and we were calling Peter Brown, and said, ‘We want to get married. Where can we go?’ And he called back and said, ‘Gibraltar’s the only place.’ So – ‘OK, let’s go!’ And we went there and it was beautiful. It’s the Pillar of Hercules, and also symbolically they called it the End of the World at one period. There’s some name besides Pillar of Hercules – but they thought the world outside was a mystery from there, so it was like the Gateway to the World. So we liked it in the symbolic sense, and the Rock foundation of our relationship.
As with their earlier trip to France, the events were documented in Lennon’s The Ballad Of John And Yoko, recorded with Paul McCartney at EMI Studios on 14 April 1969.
Finally made the plane into Paris
Honeymooning down by the Seine
Peter Brown called to say
You can make it OK
You can get married in Gibraltar near Spain
In 1999, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the wedding, Gibraltar issued postage stamps of the couple standing on the airport runway in front of the famous rock, holding their marriage certificate.
It was very romantic. It’s all in the song, The Ballad Of John And Yoko. If you want to know how it happened, it’s in there. Gibraltar was like a little sunny dream. I couldn’t find a white suit – I had off-white corduroy trousers and a white jacket. Yoko had all white on.
Within the hour Lennon and Ono had reboarded their aeroplane and were en route back to the Parisian hotel, the Plaza Athénée, where they had stayed on 16 March.
Here is Yoko Ono’s statement today.
Photo: Yoko Ono and John Lennon in Le Bourget airport in France.