BBC Wales sparks furious backlash with God Save the Queen question
The BBC has sparked a fierce backlash after it asked if Wales could sing God Save the Queen before international sports matches.
It posed the question on social media following a suggestion from the Archbishop of York that Wales sing the English and British anthem ahead of sporting contests.
In a column for the Telegraph, Stephen Cottrell said when the different nations of the UK play each other they could “belt out our individual anthems” before they “sing our national anthem together”.
BBC Wales published an article which referenced the comments and looked at the history of Wales singing God Save the Queen and Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau before international games.
The headline said: “National anthem: Should Wales’ teams sing God Save the Queen?”
When it shared the article on its official Twitter page it asked: “Could Welsh sports teams sing two anthems before games?”
The question prompted a barrage of angry responses.
Bryn Williams said: “Perhaps BBC Wales should be renamed ‘BBC in Wales’ as they clearly don’t respect our differences.”
Llion Rhys said: “Guessing they don’t realise we’ve got our OWN anthem? What a stupid question!”
Lloyd Hughes said: “How is this even a debate? BBC Wales literally has no back bone or a (sic) intern from Surrey wrote this”.
Roopa Vyas said: “Could this be the worst thing the BBC has posted?”
Sebastian Waters said: “Who gave Alun Cairns the Twitter login?”
Jason Morgan said: “From the establishment that brought the classic ‘Is the Welsh language irritating?’ to you.”
Rugby writer Peter Jackson told the BBC that he believes God Save the Queen is seen by people as “not the anthem of Wales” and would be “booed now even more than it was in the past”.
God Save the Queen used to be sung at Wales’ rugby matches and sports historian Huw Richards said it was generally accepted and played as well as Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, until a “tipping point” came in the 1970s.
Richards told the BBC: “In 1973, God Save the Queen was played at Cardiff before Wales played Japan and unmercifully jeered, with it identified among Welsh fans as English, who asked ‘why are they playing it at our game?’
“Then at Twickenham, a few months later, Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau wasn’t played – it was suggested it was direct retaliation, with the RFU president thoroughly embarrassed, saying the band took unilateral action.”
He says this was the around the time when it was decided God Save the Queen was “not appropriate for Wales games” and it was “quietly dropped”.
In his article for the Telegraph, Cottrell also complained about Scotland singing the Scottish national anthem Flower of Scotland before its Euro 2020 match with England, instead of both teams having “sung one national anthem”.
But he did praise the “impressive zest” with which the Scottish anthem was sung.
He said many people in England feel left behind by “metropolitan elites in London and the South East” and are “patronised as backwardly xenophobic”, and called for “an expansive vision of what it means to be English”.
In his column he said: “I’m also a big fan of any game that stops for tea. In fact, after the horrors of Covid, our whole nation would benefit from a tea break.
“A chance to pause, reset and rediscover who we are: a courageous and compassionate community of communities, serving the common good, and delighting in our diversity across these islands.
“Then when the different nations of the United Kingdom find themselves pitched against each other on the sports field, we could belt out our individual anthems. Then sing our national anthem together. And love our neighbour.”