In a very cinematic moment in Beatles history, as Paul McCartney and his new wife Linda were on an airplane from London to New York to start their honeymoon today, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were flying to Paris with marriage in mind.

The Beatles Bible says that John and Yoko made their decision two days after Paul and Linda’s wedding, adding that “whether it was in response to this event on some level is open to conjecture.” But certainly it was no coincidence; John and Paul were fraternal competitors in all things, matrimony no less than music.

John and Yoko couldn’t get married in England because of Yoko’s unresolved citizenship status and recent divorce, so they started looking around for alternatives. First they planned to go to Amsterdam, but Holland required a two-week minimum residency, and they were in a hurry. Then they hatched a plan to take the ferry from England to France and have the captain marry them. Said John,

We wanted to get married on a cross-channel ferry. That was the romantic part: when we went to Southampton and then we couldn’t get on because she wasn’t English and she couldn’t get the day visa to go across. And they said, “Anyway, you can’t get married. The Captain’s not allowed to do it any more.”

Finally Apple’s lawyers figured out that Gibraltar, a British territory south of Spain, had no waiting period. So John and Yoko’s flight to Paris was just the first leg of their journey to Gibraltar, where they would get married a few days hence. More on that at the appropriate time.

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