Award-winning cellist who performed at Prince Harry’s wedding calls for Proms to ban ‘Rule Britannia’ as “it makes people uncomfortable”


An award-winning cellist who performed at Prince Harry’s wedding has called for the Proms to ban ‘Rule Britannia’ as “it makes people uncomfortable”.

  • READ MORE: Forget ‘Rule Britannia’ – ‘Common People’ is the true sound of Britain

In 2020, the BBC made a decision to perform just an instrumental version of ‘Rule Britannia’ at the Last Night Of The Proms after criticism over historic links with colonialism and slavery.

A survey shortly after revealed that 55 per cent of people opposed the decision, and the song ended up being performed in its original version.

Now, lauded cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason – who performed at Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle and was in 2016 the first black person to win the BBC Young Musician award – has shared his hope for the song to be banned at the Proms moving forwards.

In an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Kanneh-Mason said that there was “so much wonderful music” that could be performed instead of ‘Rule Britannia’.

“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 [the people singing it] feel good,” he said.

“There is so much wonderful British music. The wealth of folk music from this country is astonishing,” he added.

“There is so much that is worth celebrating and having as part of a big celebration at the end of a wonderful music festival.”

Last Night Of The Proms-2000x1270
‘Last Night Of The Proms’ at The Royal Albert Hall. CREDIT: Nicky J. Sims/Redferns

In response, a BBC spokesperson said: “The Proms are built on longstanding traditions that were established by co-founder Sir Henry Wood, and which are loved by people around the world.

“One of these traditions is the last night festivities. Other traditions include promoting new music, accessibility and opening up the world of classical music to as many people as possible.”

Back in 2019, Lily Allen faced criticism after calling for ‘Rule Britannia’ to be banned.

Taking aim at the track, which originated from a poem by James Thomson, she singled out the lyrics: “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves. The nations, not so blest as thee, Must in their turn, to tyrants fall, While thous shalt flourish, shalt flourish great and free.”

Allen said: “Sorry what? Britannia rule the waves… I think we should not read this song anymore.”





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