Welcome to anthem4england – the campaign for an English national anthem – a website for people who are heartily fed up of God Save the Queen being used as the English national anthem. For some English people English identity is coterminous with British identity. These people puzzle us. What are they thinking when the Scots and Welsh sing their anthems with gusto and then boo God Save the Queen; have they not noticed that since devolution the Scots and Welsh now govern themselves, and; do they realise that English identity and self-awareness is resurgent, the St George’s Cross having replaced the Union Flag in the affections of most English people?
We at anthem4england have noticed, and we regard God Save the Queen as the musical equivalent of the Union flag. We would like you to join and support our campaign for England to have its own specifically English national anthem distinct from God Save the Queen, which is the Royal and de facto British anthem.
What is wrong with God Save the Queen?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with God save the Queen if that is what people want to sing when they are gathered together as Brits or in celebration of Britain or the monarch. But it is the British anthem.
This is not a republican campaign – though some supporters may hold those views – it is a campaign that argues that the English should sing an English, not British, anthem. God Save the Queen can continue to be the British anthem, to be sung as a celebration of Britishness or the monarch, by the individual peoples of Britain, or by the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish when they are gathered together as Brits.
However, the British anthem should not be sung by the English as an English anthem. While it may be politically convenient for the UK Government to encourage Scottishness and Welshness whilst keeping Britishness to the fore in England, it serves neither Britain nor the monarchy to do so. It is disrespectful to England, Scotland and Wales to conflate England with Britain in this way; for England is a nation every bit as much as Scotland and Wales, and those Scots and Welsh that still consider themselves British, and who have no republican objection to God Save the Queen, are now obliged to boo their own anthem for fear of being regarded as traitors by an increasingly nationalistic tendency that regard God Save the Queen as the English anthem.
Those people that will accuse us of trying to diminish the monarchy, or of trying to hasten the decline of Britain, should consider how perverse it is for the Scottish and English teams to line up together with the Scots singing a Scottish anthem and the English singing a British anthem. Doesn’t God Save the Queen apply equally to the English and Scottish; are we not all equally British?
It is worth noting that the fourth component of the UK, Northern Ireland, also sings God Save the Queen as their national anthem. For political and sectarian reasons their case is more complicated than that of England’s, but no less compelling for being so. At anthem4england we limit our campaign to England and the English national anthem, what arrangements Northern Ireland make, or indeed Scotland and Wales, is a matter for them.
Does England need its own national anthem?
Of course England needs its own anthem. Those English people pictured in Trafalgar Square aren’t celebrating Britain, or the Queen, they are celebrating England. The English flag has replaced the British flag as the banner of the English and we now need to replace the British anthem with an English anthem.
Every other nation has a national anthem, so why not the English?
The mournful strains of God Save the Queen may be suited to a song celebrating the monarchy but it does not stir the blood. Just look at the way English sportsmen shuffle uncomfortably from foot to foot, eyes down, looking for all the world like they wished the ground would open up and swallow them when God Save the Queen is playing.
England needs an anthem that represents England. Why should the British National Anthem continue to be played and sung at occasions which are strictly English affairs? And why should those Scots and Welsh be permitted to say ‘it is the English anthem’ as an excuse for booing God Save the Queen?
No longer should the English be expect to sing a song that amounts to little more than collective national forelock-tugging set to music. It’s a cringe-making and toe-curling national embarrassment.
The use of God Save the Queen as both the English and British national anthem does nothing for Anglo-Scottish/Welsh relations, as demonstrated by this letter to the Western Mail; 14th Sep, 2005:
SIR – Regarding the booing of God Save The Queen at the Millennium Stadium, the tradition of booing goes back to the days (not so long ago) when the English national anthem was routinely played after Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau – regardless of who we were playing.
It was meant as a reminder to us in Wales of our subject status. That is why it is routinely booed. Or it may be a critical reaction to the quality of the singing and the music. the lyrics are fairly demeaning, too. the second verse reads: O Lord our God, arise, Scatter our enemies, And make them fall; Confound their politics, Frustrate their knavish tricks; On thee our hopes we fix: God save us all. Unpleasant stuff. Isn’t it time the English got a better anthem?
Indeed, it is time for the English to sing in passionate celebration of England, rather than to remind us of our subject status; it is time for a better anthem, an anthem to stir the English soul.
On the previous incarnation of this website we ran a number of polls over the course of five years to determine public attitudes. The results of those polls can be viewed here. It is on the basis of those polls and the feedback we received from the public that we should campaign. Please read our campaign aims to find out more