Media Partners | Contributors | Advertise | Contact | Log in | Saturday 2 July 2022

Knowing the national anthem does not make you British


Share This Article:

One third of those surveyed by The Sun don't know the first line of God Save the Queen. But in a multi-cultural society, does it actually matter?

The newspaper posed the question to 1000 of its readers, along with nine other questions about British history and popular culture.  

Surprisingly (or maybe not?) 37% of those questioned didn’t know that “God save our gracious Queen” was the first line of our national anthem.

Based on the paper’s imaginings of what the new British Citizenship test might entail, the article revealed that over half of the people interviewed didn’t know that Henry VIII had six wives.

But how does this reflect on our patriotism or lack thereof? The comments under the article on the Sun’s website exploded with vitriol, evenly divided between the monarchy and immigrants.

Is knowing the national anthem and who invented the telephone an essential part of being British, or just useful if you like pub quizzes?

I’d argue that the British identity is more to do with community and diversity than less tangible things than the history of the British Isles.

Moreover, as much as I believe in as free an immigration policy as is possible, since the system would break down without some kind of filter I’d argue that a citizenship test is not the way to do it.

Those who wish to move to the UK should be judged on individual merit – how willing they are to integrate into the community, what they can contribute to our society and the difference it would make to their lives.

Learning historical dates and the names of The Beatles makes you no more a Brit than knowing the symptoms of chicken-pox makes you a chicken. What really matters is the roots that you’ve put down, the friends you have in this country, the effort you’ve made to learn the language and your place in your local community.

Even a hard-nosed sceptic like me couldn’t help but get a bit of a fuzzy feeling over the way towns and villages have enjoyed the Olympic torch relay. The Olympics are very much an inclusive, multi-cultural event and I think that's the reason it's gone down so well.

The celebration of a national event on a local scale has made people come together in a way that doesn't often happen in this day and age.

I was working at a local radio station the day the torch passed through my county and the overwhelming sentiment from listeners was how they had felt a real neighbourliness. People who had never stopped to talk before had found themselves helping out together or even just chatting while they stood waiting at the barriers.

Whilst the country also enjoyed the Golden Jubilee recently, many people stayed indoors and watched festvities on TV or attended small parties with friends and family.

The event was billed as being a celebration of all that is British but to me the community spirit fostered by the torch relay was far more British than bunting, tea and rainy barbequeues. To those who have just moved to Britain, such 'traditional' British things might seem exclusive and cliquey.

The torch relay is something everyone can get behind, without feeling they need to validate themselves as British with scones and cream tea – or, for that matter, with the National Anthem.

Articles: 29
Reads: 178117
© 2022 is a website of Studee Limited | 15 The Woolmarket, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2PR, UK | registered in England No 6842641 VAT # 971692974