Send her victorias

Mike, as so often happens, is right. The “British” national anthem is a terrible durge. It’s not quite the unsingable song of explosions and defeat that the Americans have to live with, but really: for patriotism-stoking, it fails hard.

But the English (yes, this a ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ type of post, feel free to move on) middle classes do have a soft spot for it, which is why it remains the divisive tune they seek to impose on everybody. See also Piers Moron, the story-faking, insider-dealing, phone-hacking shit who used to edit the Mirror (with safety scissors) demanding, loudly, that victorious athletes in the Olympics should hurriedly get their breath back and belt out this meaningless piss lest they be declared “unpatriotic”.

Last Friday, I went to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall for the first concert of the new season. As is tradition, they played ‘God Save the Queen’ at the start, in a stylised way. The occassion and the pace of the piece was clearly incompatible with singing along (we had a choir for that), let alone standing up for it. The programme for the concert noted that standing up, and by implication singing along, was inappropriate.

The woman in the row in front of me started it. As soon as she recognised the piece – and it’s sufficiently bad that the slightest reorchestration renders it a mystery – catapulted to her feat in the middle of the first verse. Her neighbours followed suit. Others around soon joined in, until about a third were standing, the ignorant fools. This third were a mixture of people who hadn’t read the programme and people who had but were easily intimidated by peer pressure. The latter are worth watching; they’re the ones who will be informing on you to any Gestapo, Stasi, Securitate or Community Support Officer who asks if they’ve seen anything “doubtful” in their neighbours.

I stayed sat down. The song means nothing to me. I couldn’t give a flying corgi about Mrs Mountbatten and look on in horror and disgust at the idea of her aging offspring taking over from her with his anti-science right-wing views. We could, of course, skip him and have his untested, young and possibly traumatised son, or his ex-wife’s other child, take over. But if you’re going to do that, why not have a poll and ask the people? And if you do have a poll, why not open it up to other candidates? And while we’re there, set a term limit of 5 years or so?

Oh look, we’re a republic.

But, people say pensively, what would we do with God Save the Queen, our national anthem? Well, here’s a thing: why not retire it and its baggage? The original song, I believe, was written for nuns to sing in the hope that the then King would recover form his bleeding piles. Much better if we replace it with Jerusalem for England and Land of Hope and Glory for Great Britain. After all, Jerusalem actually mentions England, while Land of Hope and Glory really is a patriotic rouser of a song.

With a quick couple of acts of parliament, we could have something for everyone to rally round: a democratically elected head of state, a separate anthem for England and a song with new, consistent rules that don’t require exhausted athletes to sing along for the benefit of discredited tabloid editors and don’t confuse middle class people as to whether or not to stand after the person next to them sprang to their feet.

It’s win-win.


  1. You’ll not be surprised to know that I also have a big problem with the national anthem. Republican feeling aside, I feel that it’s an insult to have an anthem which praises the monarch above the people.

  2. Everyone loves Land of Hope and Glory. But God Save Whoevers Sat In Buck Palace This Week is traditional.Ergo it will never go because we can’t change something in this country if its tradition. Even if its awful and clearly wrong, it’s tradition so must say as it is.Some countries are forward facing. Britain is backwards facing.

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