It was announced yesterday that MPs are to debate changing the anthem sung by specifically English teams at relevant sporting events from “God Save the Queen” to something else. Hoo-bloody-rah, I say: finally. It should be stated that we have been here before – both 2006 and 2007 saw early day motions on the topic come to nought – but this time, word on the street is that this is a serious initiative that may very well happen. It looks like there will actually be a vote and real change on this front.
There are many reasons why England should have its own anthem. One, every other part of the UK does already. Yes, I can hear some of you say, England makes up around 85% of the population of Britain so it having its own anthem is not as pressing a matter for England as it is for the Celtic nations who would find “God Save the Queen” a wee bit imperialistic. You’re wrong – England not having its own national anthem feeds English feelings of being treated unfairly, which rightly or wrongly is a major issue in the politics of this country.
Also – and I will not labour this point, so relax – the Welsh get “Land of Our Fathers”, a tune so stirring that many grown Englishmen find they suddenly have something in their eyes when it gets sung before rugby matches; the Scots have “Flower of Scotland”, one of the most rousing anthems ever written; even the Northern Irish have “Londonderry Air”. Meanwhile – and again, I will leave this point here – “God Save the Queen” leaves a lot to be desired in the national anthem sweepstakes.
Finally, I come to what I think is my strongest point. The English getting to “own” “God Save the Queen”, which let us remind ourselves is the British national anthem, is the most imperialistic thing about the current situation. Why do the other nations sing different anthems while the English sing the British one? It harkens back to a time when “England” and “Britain” were often used synonymously, an age we thankfully do not live in anymore. It is time to decouple England and Britain at long last in the anthem realm, the last bastion of this 18th century thinking.
So what should the English anthem be then? I think it’s obvious: “Jerusalem”. We already get it before England cricket matches, so it would be an easy fit. However, I’m willing to listen to the “Land of Hope and Glory” contingent. Anything to get away from the status quo on this (well almost anything – I’d blanche at “I Should be so Lucky” becoming the new English anthem as a for instance). It’s one of those things that, after this has been changed, it will seem total lunacy that the situation was allowed to continue as it had been for as long as it had been. So come on, parliament – do us proud.