Rule Britannia

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According to a YouGov poll, for The Times, 5% of those who voted,  believe that the songs “Land of Hope and Glory” and “Rule, Britannia!” should not be performed at the Last Night of the Proms.


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Another 16% feel that it is OK to play the instrumental version only, without lyrics.

The majority believe it should be the full version, with the words.

The BBC have gone with the minority and chosen to go with the no lyrics version.

What is “Rule, Britannia!”?

Rule, Britannia! was written by the Scottish poet/playwright, James Thomson.

Thomson’s words for “Rule Britannia”, were written as part of the masque “Alfred” and set to music by Thomas Arne.


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It became one of the best-known British patriotic songs.

Alfred is a sung stage work about Alfred the Great with music by Thomas Arne and a libretto by David Mallet and James Thomson. It was first performed in 1740 at the country home of Frederick, Prince of Wales.

Alfred the Great was the king of Wessex from 871 to about 886 and king of the Anglo-Saxons from about 886 to 899.

Many residents of the British Isles of that time were treated as slaves.

In early Anglo-Saxon times, slaves were often descendants of the conquered British population: the Anglo-Saxon word for “Briton” is used interchangeably for “slave”.

The song was played at the ceremonial surrender of the Japanese imperial army in Singapore, at the conclusion of World War II in 1945.


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