Should England have its own national anthem for sporting events?

When English sporting teams play in the national arena they sing God Save the Queen. But should they

When English sporting teams play in the national arena they sing God Save the Queen. But should they have a different anthem, specific to England, as Wales and Scotland do? - Credit: PA

It is a questions which has been debated by sports fans for many years – should England have its own national anthem for sporting events?

While the Welsh sing Land of Our Fathers and the Scottish sing Flower of Scotland, the English continue to sing the British national anthem, God Save the Queen, in major events such as the Rugby Six Nations and the Football World Cup.

Today, a Labour MP will propose a law which could pave the way for something different for the English.

Toby Perkins, the MP for Chesterfield, will call for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to hold a consultation about what the English national anthem should be when it is England players performing in a sporting arena.

'I have nothing against God Save the Queen but that is the national anthem of the United Kingdom.

'England is a component part of the UK but it competes as a country in its own right and I think a song that celebrated England rather than Britain would be more appropriate.

'There has been much talk about the union in recent years. I am English and I am British and I am proud of both of these things but they are not the same thing.

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'And so I think part of the new settlement for Britain in these times of devolution is to more formally recognise that England and Britain are different entities and, just as we have different flags, so we should have a discussion about having a song for England,' he has said.

Until 2010, Land Of Hope And Glory was used as the anthem when English athletes won gold medals at Commonwealth Games.

But this was switched to Jerusalem for the 2010 games in New Delhi after the hymn was chosen in a poll launched by the Commonwealth Games Council for England.

The nation's most successful Commonwealth Games sportsman, Michael Gault, who won his record-equalling 18th Commonwealth Games medal in Glasgow, agreed that it should change.

The RAF Marham worker, who lives in Toftwood, Dereham, said the God Save the Queen was a bit dull. But he said he favoured Land of Hope and Glory over Jerusalem, because it was a better tune and more memorable.

But 89-year-old Norfolk Royal watcher Mary Relph is appalled at the idea of moving away from the traditional God Save the Queen.

'It is ridiculous. We have had the national anthem for as long as I can remember. We've had it since I was a little girl. I do not agree with this.'

And she said she did not think the Queen, who attends many of the events, would approve of the move.

North-West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham agreed.

'As England is by far and away the biggest part of our great and historic union, the anthem that should be played in support of English teams should remain the national anthem.

To alter this tradition would be highly controversial, unfair to our beloved Queen and totally unnecessary.'

Broadland MP Keith Simpson said that if there was going to be an anthem for England, it would likely be Jerusalem, because most of the fans would actually be able to sing the words.

'It is of course based on a poem by William Blake, so it is very English.'

•What could England's national anthem be?


William Blake's poem set to an arrangement by Hubert Parry is the frontrunner, should there ever be an opening for an official English sporting anthem. King George V said he preferred it to God Save the King and it is already used, in some circumstances, as an unofficial anthem – for instance, in rugby league, cricket and for the English Commonwealth team. It was also adapted by prog rock act Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

•Land of Hope and Glory

Closely associated with the climax of the Last Night of the Proms, when it is performed among much waving of flags – Union Flags, as opposed to St George's crosses, it must be said.

It was sung as the victory anthem of England at the Commonwealth Games, until 2010 when it was replaced by Jerusalem. A 2006 BBC survey suggested 55pc of the English preferred it as a national anthem to God Save the Queen.

•There'll Always Be an England

Written in the summer of 1939, it became highly popular after the outbreak of the Second World War, particularly a version performed by Vera Lynn. Within two months of the start of the war, 200,000 copies of the sheet music were sold. Decades later, The Sex Pistols were famous for entering on stage to the tune.

Rule, Britannia!

A rather bellicose contender, and possibly undermined by the fact that it expresses pride in Britain, rather than England. But it can still get the blood pumping.

•Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?

It may struggle to gain traction outside of these parts, but The Singing Postman's paean to Molly Windley could gain some votes locally.