God Save the Queen …

· Essay

The 2012 Olympic Games in London started out with a flag mix-up for the North Korean team, unflattering comments by Mitt Romney, and the refusal of some British subjects to sing “God Save the Queen”. This article aims to show that the latter was truly an unjustifiable act, based on both an analysis of the words of the anthem, and, to a lesser extent, the considered opinions of others.

The Incident:

The international community will hardly be interested in the names of those who refused to sing the national anthem.  Suffice it to say that there was a certain question of regionalism or even nationalism involved on the part of one or more team members from both of the following: Wales and Scotland. An article, no longer extant, in the online edition of the British Daily Mail, suggested that a Scottish player was upset that the anthem had a verse antithetical to Scotch sensibilities. If it was wrong to object to the singing, it gives the lie to “Mens sana in corpore sano“: “A sound mind in a sound body”.

An Analysis of the Anthem’s First Verse

The following is the first verse, punctuated in the manner that this writer feels the words:

God save Our gracious Queen, Long live Our noble Queen,
God save the Queen. Happy and Glorious, Send Her victorious,
Long to reign over Us; God save the Queen.

The capitals and bold print are to emphasize that the writer is part of communities, of which the Queen is the head. Specifically, he is a Canadian, which, in turn, is part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
“God” is in bold, to emphasize the writer’s beliefs. Nothing obliges him to be a member of the Church of England, of which the Queen is the Supreme Governor. This writer holds that any civilized religion would want God to bestow all the best upon the Monarch. The same holds true for any other type of head of state. “Save” can be understood in a theological sense, by which it may be claimed, the “saving” of the Monarch implies a behaviour which will be in the best interests of the governed. This alone would justify a hearty rendition of the anthem: self-interest.

For atheists, republicans, and other anti-monarchists, the anthem could be written, e. e. cummings style.  I am not sure what word-stuffing is on a web-page – if anyone tried to show what it was, punishment would be swift, so the anthem is not repeated – just imagine it without any capital letters.  Hopefully readers will not take this as blasphemy to God, or an insult to the Queen. The objective of the punctuation, and the following analysis, is the removal of grounds for insult by those who object to singing. They are offered a way out, by the following arguments.

1. Atheists do not believe in God, but know that there exist peoples who have gods. They know that these gods are powerless. By invoking a powerless god in the anthem, they can safely sing along, without giving offence to the traditionalists.
2. The word “gracious”, in one of its definitions, goes with royalty, in the same way that “Dear” goes with the person to who a letter is addressed. Admittedly, there are letter writers who might claim that the person to whom they are writing is not “dear” to them, but that is a cranky point of view. No reason exists to eliminate standard forms of courtesy.
3. The word “our” referring to “queen”. The singer may have some other kind of queen in mind. A queen can be the same as a goddess, or “the personified best example of anything that can be regarded as feminine”. Something like a “mother of all battles”, but, substituting “queen”.
4. “Noble” in the case of the Queen is true, as she is of royalty. In the meaning, “of lofty character of ideals”, it may be applicable to the “queen” of one’s choice. Other meanings which could be employed, are “imposing” and “magnificent”. Adding to the previous example, now we get an “imposing mother of all battles”.
5. “Happy and glorious” do not clearly refer to “queen”.
6. The most difficult part: “Send her victorious, long to reign over us”, can be sung, because by believing neither in God nor the Monarchy, the singer is not attaching the words to any specific belief system. Is this, then, a falsehood? Here, form trumps “truth”, at the moment of singing the anthem, the monarchist is not arguing about political beliefs of other singers – far from it!


Personally, this writer, in reading history, has seen what royalty has suffered. Their life may have been less carefree than that of the common man. An example is Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor. As a yound boy, he was forced to start studying at 6 A.M., and for 12 hours a day.[1]  His grandmother, Queen Victoria, also had a stern upbringing, learning German, French, Italian, and Latin, among other subjects.  She would show her severity to her grandson from Germany, when he refused to bow, she showed that no disobedience would be brooked.  [2] Tsar Nicolas’s daughters were trilingual, and also suffered a “rigorous regime of English frugality”, in the tradition of their German mother and again, Queen Victoria, their grandmother. [3]   Certainly, for their effort, royalty deserves some respect.  As mentioned previously, the same goes for other types of government.  The bibliography shows that this conforms to principles that have been formulated even in the non-monarchical United States of America.



Cassels Romance of Famous Lives. n.d. Vol. III (for Queen Victoria)
Concise Oxford Dictionary, Third Edition, with revised Addenda, 1946.
Garrett, Richard. Kaiser Bill. Hove, East Sussex: Wayland (Publishers). 1978.


1.  Garret, pp. 13-17 show the rigorous upbringing of the future Kaiser.  This was, according to the author, the desire of his mother, the Princess Royal Victoria, a daughter of Queen Victoria.  This image does not concur with her liberal political thinking.

2. Cassels, p. 1122.

3. Rappaport, Helen. “True Secret History of the Last Russian Princesses …”, Review of Four Sisters – The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses, by Helen Rappaport.  Daily Mail, 23 March 2014. 

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