In a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the global phenomenon K-pop girl group BLACKPINK was honored with the prestigious Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) medals by none other than King Charles. The dazzling event took place on November 22 during the official state visit to the United Kingdom by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.
Bucking tradition, the awards weren’t for musical achievements, but rather, in the words of Buckingham Palace, were presented “in recognition of their role as Advocates for the COP26 Summit in Glasgow.” The significance of their advocacy for environmental issues on the global stage was underscored during the ceremony. King Charles, acknowledging the enduring camaraderie of BLACKPINK, quipped, “It’s amazing you’re still talking to each other after all these years. I hope I shall be able to see you perform live at some point,” according to Reuters.
🌎 First appointed to the role by the UK Government in January 2021, @BLACKPINK encouraged millions of young people to engage with the global UN climate change conference and the topic of climate action.— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 22, 2023
Congratulations to Rosé, Jennie, Jisoo and Lisa! 👏 pic.twitter.com/odjv3oRKxZ
The royal accolades didn’t end there. King Charles had previously highlighted BLACKPINK’s impactful role during a state banquet on November 21 at Buckingham Palace. Commending the group for bringing the message of environmental sustainability to a global audience, he stated, “I applaud Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa, and Rosé, better known collectively as BLACKPINK, for their role in bringing the message of environmental sustainability to a global audience as Ambassadors for the UK’s Presidency of COP26, and later as advocates for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
In a broader cultural context, King Charles also recognized Korea’s growing influence on pop culture, weaving a narrative that connects icons like BTS with classic hits. “Korea has matched Danny Boyle with Bong Joon-ho, James Bond with Squid Game, and The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ with BTS’s ‘Dynamite’,” he said. “Our cultures share a remarkable ability to captivate imaginations across the world, transforming a so-called soft power into a shared superpower.”
The celebration of K-pop’s influence didn’t stop with the ceremony. During the changing of the guard outside Buckingham Palace on the same day, the military band paid tribute to their South Korean guests by playing two iconic K-pop songs—BLACKPINK’s ‘Ddu-Du Ddu-Du’ and Psy‘s viral 2012 hit ‘Gangnam Style’. The gesture served as a harmonious finale to a day that marked the fusion of musical prowess, global advocacy, and cross-cultural appreciation.