Rule Britannia

A young musician has proclaimed, “Rule Britannia makes people feel uncomfortable and should not be sung on the last night of the proms.”

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who performed at the proms, told Radio 4 that he did not think the song should be included in Last Night of the Proms and that “so much wonderful music” could replace it.

Mr Kanneh-Mason, who was awarded an MBE at 22, went on to say, “I think maybe some people don’t realise how uncomfortable a song like that can make a lot of people feel, even if it makes them [the people singing it] feel good,” he said.

“I think that’s somehow a big misunderstanding about it.”

The song raised eyebrows when the lyrics were left out a few years back, with the BBC meekly offering Covid 19 restrictions as the excuse. However, reports have suggested that the song’s lyrics have links to colonialism and slavery.

When asked what should replace the song, the young cellist suggested folk music, citing our plethora of talent in that genre.

No. You can go to a folk festival to see the wealth of folk music we have to offer.

People go to the Proms for the pomp and ceremony, the renditions of these old songs, not for folk, heavy metal, drill or any of the new music that gets promoted.

People go to the Proms for the classics, and to suggest that the lyrics of some of the songs make people uncomfortable is folly.

I went to see Roger Waters last year. He has political undertones in his lyrics, and his ramblings between songs included talking nonsense about Christian supremacists being in charge of America when he knows it isn’t; I was a tad taken aback when SMASH CAPITALISM flashed across the big screen, which was rich coming from a man who charged £124 a ticket.

Did I want to hear it? No. Was I offended? No. Did I like to listen to his opinions about George Floyd, Donald Trump, BLM and Palestine? No.

I went there to hear the classics, the music he produced in the 1970s, music incidentally which was heavily inspired by his ex-bandmate Syd Barratt, who suffered dreadfully from mental health problems, and the lyrics reflected this.

But we don’t hear some tribute act or someone doing a cover of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, bleating about the lyrics triggering their mental health.

This is the kicker for Sheku: he may be a talented musician, but he is essentially just a highbrow tribute act – unlike Waters, who created his own music – and has been put in the position of being allowed to play old classics, songs from a different era at one of the most prestigious events in the musical calendar.

As a budding musician myself (a midlife crisis), can the Homeland Party and I respectfully request that he show a bit of gratitude for the privilege that has befallen him? He is, after all, a glorified cover artist. He should even take the advice given by the public address at the beginning of Roger Waters’ concert.

It says, “If you don’t like what Roger has to say, you might do well to f**k off to the bar”.

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