‘Thy choicest gifts in store / On her be pleased to pour.’ The prospect is upon Twickenham and Wembley regulars of the end of that second tricky verse. This week, Labour MPs packed into the Commons Chamber to support Toby Perkins’s English National Anthem Bill, which proposes replacing ‘God Save the Queen’ with an English anthem at English sporting events. Given that Wales has ‘Land of my Fathers’ and North Britain (sic) ‘Flower of Scotland’, then why not, say, Blake and Parry’s ‘Jerusalem’ for the English?
The Express and the Mail say we shouldn’t be ‘rude’ to the Queen, but the modern elision of monarchy and nation is a relative novelty. Many of our monarchs could not speak English; some tried to marry us off to foreign sovereigns; others abdicated. Monarchies rise and fall, while England is eternal. Come on Speaker Bercow, fast-track the Bill, and let’s kick off the Six Nations at Murrayfield with the ‘countenance divine’.
This is a preview from Tristram Hunt’s diary, which appears in this week’s issue of The Spectator, available from tomorrow.