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National Anthem Faces Red Card

It is English sport's greatest ritual. The white shirts line up, chests puff out and a military band strikes up the tune that will inspire the team to victory. Players and fans in belting out 'God Save The Queen' at the top of their voices. 

But Her Majesty will not be amused to learn that the masses have protests against the national anthem being used as the official song for England's rugby and football teams. The Prime Minister has been deluged with letters from people demanding a new anthem. 

Hundreds of citizens have written from every part of Britain that 'God Save The Queen' is replaced by a 'more appropriate' tune. 'Their general opinion is "England, get your own national anthem; 'God Save The Queen' is a British song",' explained a Downing Street insider. 

'The protests haven't just come from nationalist Scottish and Welsh types. Quite a few are from people in England who also the national teams should have a new, distinctively English anthem.' 

Growing disenchantment with the monarchy, devolution of power to Edinburgh and Cardiff and increased national pride in Scotland and Wales have questions about why one part of Britain has 'appropriated' a song which is meant to British national unity and pride. 'Jerusalem', William Blake's evocation of 'England's green and pleasant land', is the most popular alternative. If change comes, England is unlikely to start using 'Land of Hope and Glory' or 'Rule Britannia' as both are associated with far-right racist elements. 

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) said: 'People have been suggesting abandoning the national anthem on and off for years, mainly because Scotland and Wales have got their own respective anthems.' Uncertainty about whether 'God Save The Queen' was out-of-date prompted the RFU to its 2,100 member clubs last year asking if they wanted a new tune - few did. 

Singer-songwriter and football fan Billy Bragg is among those who want England to find a new song. 'It's totally incongruous England using "God Save The Queen". When we Scotland recently, the Scots sang "Flower of Scotland", which is really powerful and has an obvious effect. We should have something like that.' 

Scots rugby legend Scott Hastings, capped 65 times by his country, said the national anthem was a time-honoured part of rugby's home internationals but : 'It is a bit odd for England to still be using a British song. If they change, I'd go for "Jerusalem". It's a great song - and it's English.' 

However, Sir Geoff Hurst - who a hat-trick for England when they beat Germany 4-2 in the 1966 World Cup Final - urged the FA not to break with decades of tradition. 'I'm definitely in favour of the national anthem, it's an integral part of representing your country,' he said. 'I'm extremely proud when it is played. It's very important. There's no reason to change it and it with anything else.'
(The Observer)


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Sist oppdatert: 02.07.2008

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