This past weekend has been an interesting one for me as a republican. Please note, dear American readers, the lower case r – I’m a Democrat on your soil but here a republican is simply one who disagrees with the idea of the monarchy. Not that I have anything against dear old Liz, I just a) don’t see the point these days and b) disagree with the concept. To me, it’d be like making my auntie Joan the powerless figurehead of the British Navy: while you’ll be hard pressed to find a nicer person, the ultimate questions you’re left asking are “what for?” and “why her?”.
Yet all things considered, the jubilee was rather fun wasn’t it? Expensive and damp fun but fun nonetheless. And even if the last few acts of that concert did suck (not you Stevie Wonder, I loved you) it was all worth it to watch the Queen complete the final challenge of The Crystal Maze and win a 42 inch telly. Or whatever it was that happened.
But the thing that’s been niggling away at me is the national anthem. Not only did I hear it enough times in 48 hours to make me weep but I can only imagine the Queen herself got more than a little bored with being wished to be saved. Though I suppose being told that she’s gracious and noble every few minutes can’t hurt one’s ego.
The main problem I have with it though, is one pointed out by the brilliant Bill Bailey. I paraphrase, but his main question was: “why are we asking a nonspecific deity to save these unelected sponges?” and if you’re honest, it’s a rather good question to ask.
After all, while the God referred to may have quite definitely meant the Biblical God in years past, due to the vast numbers of Muslims and Hindus who are citizens of this country, we’re singing to a slightly larger paradigm now. After all, if a Hindu sings the national anthem, who precisely are they invoking to come to our dear monarch’s aid? That elephant one? Well, while he may be excellent at remembering to save the Queen, I doubt he’d be that good in a scrap. Or what if a Muslim sings? Do they technically have to sing Allah save our gracious Queen? And would Allah oblige? If you check with the Qur’an, Allah never shows up for anybody. Never mind the feeble residents of these rain sodden islands.
And when you think about it, it’s a rather silly thing to say anyway because none of the other monarchs about whom it has been sung since its debut in 1745 under the rule of George II are alive and saved to my knowledge. Had our national anthem miraculously resurrected Victoria, or taken a bullet for Edward VII then there would be some use in regurgitating it as often as we do but seeing as how all our kings and queens still end up six feet under, I guess it’s rather defunct.
What would I suggest in its place? Well, Land Of Hope And Glory is always a fave but then that just seems rather pompous really. Hope and glory? Are you serious? We major in rain and financial ruin over here if I’m not mistaken, and with the Tories in power all hope is dead for the time being.
That said, America has the lines “land of the free and the home of the brave” and that land of the free part is rather laughable seeing as how over 1% of their entire population is behind bars – they imprison more people than any civilization in history. When Martin Luther King shouted “Free at last!” I guess they only took it figuratively.
Then again, it’s only fair to lie and hype things up in your national anthem, as France sings about irrigating their farmland with blood. Maybe a laudable sentiment back in 1789 with the revolution, but rather outdated now wouldn’t you say?
Perhaps Australia has it right with rejoicing in mediocrity with Advance Australia Fair. As Ed Byrne points out: fair is only one step up from ‘poor’ and on the way to ‘middling’.
Were I to honestly have to come up with a viable alternative, I can only suggest the “naaaa naa naa na na na naaaa” bits from Hey Jude. That way, we wouldn’t be lying and we’d have lots of fun singing it.
Slightly Unrelated Video Of The Day:
Then again, we could always try this: