Letter from the Department of Culture Media and Sport

A reply to my letter asking for an official English anthem:

Thank you for your email of 10 October about national anthems.

As you may know, it is the tune which constitutes the authorised part of the National Anthem in the United Kingdom and not the words. The latter are traditional; and the choice of words and verses to be used on any particular occasion is one for those concerned.

Your suggestion has been carefully noted, but there are no plans to recommend to The Queen that any change should be made.

The National Anthem is the anthem for the whole of the United Kingdom. The constituent parts of the United Kingdom may quite properly have national songs for which they have a particular attachment. However, there are no plans to introduce an official English Anthem.

I appreciate that the playing of national anthems at sporting events is an issue which gives rise to strong feelings in many people. However, this is a matter solely for the governing body of the sport of public entertainment concerned, and the Government has no locus to intervene.
I hope this information is helpful.


Denis Clarke
Desk Policy Officer
Central Information and Briefing Unit

Hmmm…I’m not entirely sure that he understood my letter. I was not asking for a change to the UK national anthem but simply whether the government offered any advice on what is, and what is not, appropriate in terms of the anthem played.

I don’t believe that the Government has no locus to intervene; the power invested in them by the electorate makes them the locus. Daniel Kawczynski’s Early Day Motion and the recent anthems debate in the Scottish Parliament would indicate that I am correct.

My reply:

Thank you for your response. You may have misinterpreted my letter. I am not objecting to God Save the Queen as the UK anthem, I am objecting to God Save the Queen being used as the English national anthem because it is not. And because its use as an English anthem conflates England and Britain and creates unnecessary nationalist tensions between England and Scotland and Wales.

The UK Government is the de facto English government so it must have responsibility to advise on these matters. The Scottish Parliament can debate on the Scottish anthem and Daniel Kawczynski’s Early Day Motion in support of Jerusalem clearly indicates that the Government does have the power to change things.
Are you suggesting to me that the UK Government has no opinion on what the English national anthem should be, and that they are completely happy to let sports governing bodies decide upon what the English anthem should be, regardless of what is chosen?

If so, can you tell me whether they take the same relaxed and enlightened attitude to what British national anthem should be played at the 2012 Olympics?

I rather suspect that the Government may be willing to take a firmer line in regard to British identity.
It will be interesting to see whether the UK Government has differing policies in regard to English and British identity.

Random Quote

WHY play Britain’s national anthem at England games? Why not Jerusalem? Or, after Wednesday, Tears For Souvenirs?

— Garry Bushell

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