Rule, Britannia! will be sung on Last Night of the Proms after BBC U-turn

The Last Night of the Proms

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The BBC has reversed its decision not to have Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory sung at The Last Night of the Proms.

The U-turn follows a fierce debate that was sparked by reports that the lyrics were being dropped due to associations with colonialism and slavery.

Last week, the BBC said the decision to perform orchestral-only versions was prompted by Covid-19 restrictions.

However, a “select” group of singers will now perform the songs after all.

“The pandemic means a different Proms this year and one of the consequences, under Covid-19 restrictions, is we are not able to bring together massed voices,” the BBC said in a new statement.

“For that reason we took the artistic decision not to sing Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory in the Hall.”

But, the statement added, the BBC had been “looking hard at what else might be possible” and had found “a solution”.

No audience

“Both pieces will now include a select group of BBC Singers. This means the words will be sung in the Hall, and as we have always made clear, audiences will be free to sing along at home.

“While it can’t be a full choir, and we are unable to have audiences in the Hall, we are doing everything possible to make it special and want a Last Night truly to remember.”

The BBC’s original decision to play instrumental versions prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene.

“I cannot believe… that the BBC is saying that they will not sing the words of Land of Hope And Glory or Rule Britannia! as they traditionally do at the end of The Last Night of The Proms,” he told reporters last week.

“I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general fight of self-recrimination and wetness.”

The Last Night of the Proms will take place at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 12 September.

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