The importance of a national anthem.
I’m sure everyone’s been in a situation in their life where they’ve had to stand for a national anthem of their respective country. If you’re French, Italian, Spanish or especially American I’m sure you passionately belt out the anthem of your nation at any given opportunity. As a Welshman my national anthem is of great significance to me and you can rest assured that when the time comes this Saturday I’ll be standing in front of the television with my right hand over my heart singing at the top of my voice and I’m sure that most of the millennium stadium will be too. So why are the national anthems of the respective Countries of such significance? Why are they even sung before the game? If you read my previous article you would know that this tradition was actually started by the Welsh team of 1905 when they sung “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” in response to the New Zealand Haka. But are they of any benefit to the players? Well actually I can confirm that the answer is YES. , national anthems constitute a powerful tool to evoke nationalism and pride in individuals, according to the first empirical exploration on the effect of national anthems on social identity. Undertaken by Dr. Avi Gilboa and Dr. Ehud Bodner of BarIlan.
Now this is where things get interesting. Did you know that England as a country has no national anthem? God Save the Queen is only their adopted anthem for sporting events, and is, in fact, the National anthem of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Even more interestingly God Save the Queen is also officially the national anthem of New Zealand. So here’s the big question, as a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and northern Ireland why doesn’t Wales sing God Save The Queen before the rugby match on Saturday? Why not Scotland? Why only England? And the the most interesting question of all, why not the British and Irish lions? Well, remember I said that National anthems are linked to pride and history? I will now use these two factors to explain the reason why.
History – In 1282 Wales was annexed to England, (Made apart of England) Pride – Why would any country openly sing about its conquest?
But, God Save the Queen is an anthem to celebrate our union I hear you cry, I’m sorry but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The sixth verse of the song hardly opens itself to British unity as it contains the lines “And like a torrent rush. Rebellious Scots to crush.” I hope this goes far enough to explain the reasons why it’s not sung by the rest of the British Isles. Another thing to consider are the words of Gwynfor Evans, although I don’t want to drag politics into this and wish to stay politically neutral I feel that his words will help you see the image of Brutishness from a nationalistic perspective;
“Brutishness…is a political synonym for Englishness which extends English culture over the Scots, the Welsh, and the Irish”.
As a resident of Wales it has become clear to me that ‘God Save The Queen’ is openly perceived as an English anthem and not that of the British. In short this is the reason why it is not accepted as the anthem of the British and Irish lions, you try tell the Irish that they’re in any way British, especially considering their complete Independence as a nation away from the United Kingdom. So there we go, when you hear the anthems being sung this Saturday and God Save The Queen is being booed by the fans in the Millennium stadium you’ll know why. I wish well to both teams, but my heart will always be on Wales’s side.