There was no boycott over ‘Rule, Britannia’ at Royal Ascot. But let’s keep singing it anyway, just in case

Next week, Nigel Farage will tell us his plans to have a boiled egg, shouting: ‘I will eat this and if some idiot from Brussels tells me I have to eat asparagus instead, I shall ignore them, because I love Britain’

Mark Steel
Thursday 27 August 2020 18:22
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Eamonn Holmes asks Femi Oluwole why he's offended by the word 'slave'

If you love this country, you should sing “Rule, Britannia!”, not just at the Proms but all the time. Sing it around Sainsbury’s, and when they ask if you have a Nectar card (even though answering would interrupt the anthem, the unpatriotic scum) carry on anyway. Then sing it all day while you’re at work, even if you’re a heart surgeon. And learn to snore to the tune of “Rule, Britannia!” so you can carry on in your sleep and not spend the night being a traitor.

You can understand why some people are disgusted at the suggestion that the song should be banned, even if that proposal has been made by no one at all. Because one day someone might make that suggestion, and that’s disgusting.

Luckily, some of our newspapers and politicians are brave enough to defend our great patriotic anthems from liberal song-banning types who don’t even have the courage to exist.

This is their greatest skill, fighting off daft politically correct ideas that don’t exist. Next week the Daily Mail headline will say: “Now local councils ban Twiglets, in case they’re accidentally arranged on a plate in such a way they spell something in Arabic that offends Muslims”.

Or “BBC to cancel Strictly Come Dancing, as Greta Thunberg could possibly claim Claudia Winkleman’s hair adds to carbon emissions”.

The non-existent issue of the song has provided an opportunity for several commentators to explain the British empire was a positive force, because it put an end to slavery.

This is often the defence of the empire, and it should make us proud to be British that we abolished something dreadful that we were doing.

No one complains about countries like Andorra and Iceland, but they’ve never abolished their slave trade, have they? Pedantic types might point out that’s because they never had one, but it’s this sort of bureaucratic meddling that meant we had to leave the EU.

In fact, Britain only started its slave trade so we could abolish it because that’s how committed we were to ending slavery.

When we sent ships to Africa to round up half the people there and put them in chains, we explained very carefully: “This is so we can stop doing it in a few hundred years. So you see, it’s for your own benefit.”

This also explains why we captured India, so we could give them all the fun of getting it back.

It’s also why we should honour Fred West. Because he’s the brave soul who stopped murdering his relatives and burying them in the garden. How dare people criticise him, when they’ve never gone to all the trouble he went through? They’re willing to condemn him but I bet they’ve never even got round to buying a shovel.

All of that is lost on these people, so now we see headlines such as: “Now Royal Ascot considers axing Rule, Britannia! amid fears of backlash over ‘racism’.”

The newspaper doesn’t say who or what this backlash is. But you can understand why Royal Ascot must be afraid of bullying, maybe from an unspecified person who wrote something on Twitter, when they’re a simple struggling institution backed up by people with no profile, such as the Queen.

It must be so intimidating if you’re running a small event like Royal Ascot, that relies on local funding and help from volunteers, and some powerful figure on Twitter such as @AnarchistPete5GmadeofcustardNotallowedoutuntil2067 suggests he doesn’t want you to sing a song.

This is why we should be grateful that Nigel Farage announced he’s going to carry on singing it. Thank the Lord someone is courageous enough to sing the song no one has suggested he shouldn’t be allowed to sing.

Nelson Mandela was prepared to make sacrifices, but even he wasn’t prepared to go as far as singing a song he was allowed to sing.

Next week, Farage will tell us he’s planning to have a boiled egg, and he’ll film himself at the table shouting: “I will have this egg and no one is going to tell me I can’t. If some idiot from Brussels tells me I have to eat asparagus instead, I shall ignore them, because I love Britain.”

Maybe Farage’s heroic stand will spark a movement, in which brave souls dare to sing other songs they’re allowed to sing. Pub bands will announce solemnly: “We will now do something we feel very strongly about, and play ‘Come on Eileen’. No one has said we shouldn’t, so we’re going to play it anyway, and if we’re arrested, that’s a risk we’re prepared to take.”

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So Farage should sing away defiantly, and try to get his version into the charts, maybe with a medley of Morrissey songs on the B-side.

Because you can see why anyone would be stirred by “Rule, Britannia!”. The famous line tells us “Britannia rules the waves”. This is a wonderfully accurate description of Britain’s current standing, in which Britain’s empire now rules at least nine waves out from Bournemouth, and a further five waves of the North Sea between Bridlington and Scarborough.

In the same spirit, Italy should have an anthem that goes “Rome will rule forever, on the sea and on the land, As our aqueducts are clever, and all Christian shite is banned.”

But the song may be more apt for Farage than he realises. It was originally composed for Prince Frederick in 1740, because the prince was German and he wanted to convince people he felt truly British.

So Farage, with his French name and German wife, will bellow the words and truly capture the marvellously irrational spirit of self-loathing that made Prince Frederick so joyous to sing it 280 years ago.

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