MESS with tradition and the flag-waving pomp of the very British institution that is ‘Last Night of the Proms’ at your peril as the ‘young at heart’ BBC chiefs are finding out.
Talk of scrapping ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ from this flamboyant occasion has triggered a massive backlash against Auntie Beeb and shown it’s not just the government forced into taking U-turns.
And to show the strength of feeling aroused amongst ordinary folk, two versions of Land of Hope and Glory are currently topping the charts; both by much-missed wartime songbird Dame Vera Lynn.
Back-tracking as quickly as decently possible, the BBC insists there are no plans to scrap either ditty; and it will be played this year but only instrumental versions to comply with Covid-19 rules. Next year will back to normal.
There is no audience for this plague year but there are other ways of getting the words across – now homes across the nation, and many abroad who tune in for the music and pageantry, will be belting out the lyrics in their front rooms…and what is to stop a professional taking the lead with the musicians?
The reality is – as the BBC’s ‘independent’ news team announced – there are ‘key members of the orchestra’ who have concerns about links with the ‘British Empire, colonialism and slavery’. Surely they knew about this traditional end to the Proms when they took the gig? The conductor person spoke out…she is from Finland and while she may have studied Elgar, is lacking in the history of the Proms.