Death of Queen Elizabeth II: what will happen to God Save the Queen?

What national anthem will the British have to sing following the death Thursday of Queen Elizabeth II, with the accession of her eldest son Charles III to the throne? Tradition provides that the God Save the Queen will become again God Save the Kingwith a masculinized version of the lyrics, as was the case before the Queen’s coronation seven decades ago.

This new habit will undoubtedly be difficult for the British people to adopt, who are intoning God Save the Queen for 70 years. It is also one of two national anthems of New Zealand and the royal anthem in Australia and Canada, which have their own national anthem.

Before the coronation of Elizabeth II, God Save the King was the national anthem de facto of the United Kingdom for several centuries. Its somewhat obscure origin dates back to 1744, at least in its printed form. The patriotic song was first performed in 1745, in London, before becoming an unofficial anthem in the early 19th century.

Charles III, who is due to be officially proclaimed King on Saturday at St. James’s Palace in London, will utter the words “God Save the King” for the first time at a subsequent meeting of the Accession Council, the ceremonial body which meets at the death of a monarch, to officially proclaim the accession of the person who will succeed him to the throne.

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