The Big Debate: An English National Anthem?

Scottish Andy Murray winning Gold for Team GB

England deserve a new anthem

Those who deem it sacrilege to dare propose that God Save the Queen should be replaced as the English national anthem are guilty of blind ignorance. It is a peculiar oddity that this anthem has persisted throughout the history of the English sporting theatre, when it is patently British, rather than English. The Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish have equal right to proclaim it as their own anthem, yet all have been subjugated to the will of the English.

During the London Olympics this summer the national anthem for British athletes that claim a medal will be God Save the Queen, as it always has been; with the Queen reigning over all of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, not solely England, this makes perfect logistical sense.
Yet in a country which is dominated by atheists and agnostics, alongside a healthy representation of republicanism, it smacks of sheer incongruity that the English should sing for the endurance of an unelected head of state.
If one were to overlook the holy sentiments of the lyrics then the actual melody of the anthem is nothing more than dour and monotonous. One of the more overlooked pleasures of international fixtures, particularly international tournaments, is the opportunity to listen to the various national anthems, and the raw emotions that they inspire. Such anthems as La Marseillese, Deutschland Uber Alles, and Il Canto degli Italiani, stir such evocative sentiments.
During the 2003 Rugby World Cup Swing Low, Sweet Chariot was adopted as an unofficial anthem, as was Jerusalem during the 2005 Ashes series. Why
on earth shouldn’t Land of Hope and Glory become the national anthem for English sporting teams, it inspires more noble images and emotions than simply the long lifespan of a monarch.

If anything the anthem should be changed so that the English audience can avoid suffering the excruciating patriotism of the moralistic tub-thumping John Terry; no one needs or even deserves to hear him tunelessly bellow out ‘God Save our Gracious Queen’.


England rugby team singing “God Save the Queen”

One anthem for one nation 

This year’s epic summer of sport has reminded us all of just how proud we are to be British, not English but British. How could we be as proud of our Olympic performance without the talent of Chris Hoy, Andy Murray or Katherine Grainger?

Part of the amazing spirit of these Olympics was the way in which it unified our island nation.  Our single national anthem played for all our gold medal winners showed the world that we are one single country, united forever.

Great Britain seems to think of itself as Oxford or Cambridge in the University challenge, too good to compete as a single entity. We all know this is far from the truth. Think of the good that could have been done if Ryan Giggs’ boot had been around to complement Beckham or Owen’s.

However the sad truth of the matter is we do compete as single teams so it is only fair that when England plays Wales we both get a song to show

our different attitudes and spirits.

Whatever the national anthem of a country may be the crowd will always have songs much closer to their hearts.  RFU fans will always be heard singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and who couldn’t sing along to a Welsh crowd singing “Bread of Heaven”.

In truth the things that really matter to us about the national anthems, more than the words or meanings, is that the players sing along. We want the players to show a public commitment to their country that goes beyond the sport, and it is always so much better if we see a tear.


As a symbol of the unification we all strive for we should aim to keep our national anthem whole. This year’s Diamond Jubilee has shown us all how dearly we actually care for the monarchy. “God Save the Queen” has never been more appropriate than it is today.  It is absolutely the right choice for England, and given the choice I would say it is the right option for Great Britain.


Leave a Reply