Boris Johnson Weighs in on ‘Rule Britannia’ Row, Slams ‘Orgy of National Embarrassment’ Gripping UK

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by Svetlana Ekimenko

Opinions have been split in the ongoing debate about the British patriotic songs Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory after the BBC considered scrapping the lyrics during their performance at Last Night of the Proms, opting for an orchestral version, amid a heightened agenda of political correctness.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has waded into the ongoing row over the BBC considering stripping the lyrics of the British patriotic songs Rule Britannia and Land Of Hope And Glory during their Last Night of the Proms performance due to their perceived association with slavery and colonialism, reported the BBC.

“I do think this country is going through an orgy of national embarrassment about some of the things that other people around the world love most about us… It’s crazy for us to go around trying to censor it. It’s absolutely absurd and I think we should speak out loud and proud for the UK and our history,” said the prime minister in the House of Commons.

Johnson’s statement echoes his sentiments on the matter voiced last week, when he urged for an end to “cringing national embarrassment about our history”.

Musicians, the media and political figures have been weighing into the debate over the pieces.

The U-Turn

On 2 September, one day after Tim Davie took over from Tony Hall as the 17th Director-General of the BBC, the corporation announced that both songs would be sung at the Last Night of the Proms after all.
The popular favourites shall now be performed by a select group of vocalists.

Davie was cited as saying the BBC needs reform “with urgency”, underscoring it must be “a universal public service”.

Reacting to the news that the two tunes would be sung, as normal, at the Last Night of the Proms, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted that it was only “common sense”.

Pleased to see common sense has prevailed on the BBC Proms

— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) September 2, 2020

​The two songs have been in the limelight amid the current heightened attention to issues of political correctness in society, fueled by Black Lives Matter protests and anti-colonial sentiment.

The scandal over whether Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory should be scrapped from the setlist of the Last Night of The Proms erupted after the centuries-old tunes were derided as ‘racist propaganda’ in a debate on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Reports started to circulate suggesting the BBC was considering dropping the songs from the concert slated for 12 September at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, West London, over their apparent links to colonialism and slavery.

The move was seen as fueled by awareness of the issues in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of black former convict George Floyd at the hands of US police.

Amid the CIVID-19 pandemic and social distancing protocols, musicians are performing live at the Royal Albert Hall, but without an audience.

The BBC’s former director-general Lord Tony Hall had previously insisted that the move to scrap the lyrics to the songs was a “creative” one, as there would not be a “whole audience to sing along”.

“It’s quite hard creatively and artistically to make that work. I think they’ve come to the right conclusion,” added Lord Hall.

Hall did acknowledge, however, that the issue of dropping the songs because of their association with Britain’s imperial past had been discussed by the BBC.

Sputnik

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