Being English our national anthem is not a sacred to me or most of the nation. I am not sure whether it is still played in theatres and cinemas at the end of a performance but in my youth it was a signal to rush for the door rather than stand to attention with respect.
To this day the playing of the British and anthems of other nations at international soccer matches is sadly treated with disrespect – a habit that shames us.
At rugby matches the British national anthem is usually replaced with a national song or anthem which the crowd is happy to get behind. However I suspect that rugger buggers would sing anything with a pint or two under their belts.
God Save The Queen (an uninspiring dirge) is of course the British anthem – England doesn’t seem to have one – whilst the Welsh, Scots and Irish have them a plenty.
In contrast other nations take their national anthems seriously. This I learnt at a dance in Dublin when I took to the floor and was bemused that I was on my own – yes it was the ‘The Soldier’s Song - Amhrán na bhFiann’ playing – a melodic piece but I never made that mistake again even given the amusement rather than anger of the on-looking crowd.
I raise the subject because last week during the King’s Cup – Spain’s version of the FA Cup – the crowd booed and cat-called during the performance of La Marcha Real – one of the world’s oldest anthems. This shameful event took place even though King Juan Carlos was in the crowd to present his cup to the winning team – Barcelona.
Now Juan Carlos is highly respected by the majority of Spaniards and a recent poll stated that most of his fellow countrymen and women wished him to remain on the throne rather than abdicate in favour of his son.
The key reason for the disrespect shown to the king at the match was that the two teams participating came from Cataluña and the Basque region – two areas of Spain with separatist ambitions. Hence this was a political protest at a sporting event at which the monarch – their monarch - was present.
The excellent website – Voto en Blanco – has been holding a debate on whether the King should have stayed (as he did) or walked out in disgust. I will leave it to you to form your own opinion on that matter –but to read what Voto en Blanco readers think – click here: