BBC was improper to cancel the Final Night time of the Proms… even when the rules behind the choice had been admirable, writes HARRY MOUNT
How shifting it might have been to have heard the hovering strains of the nationwide anthem – with its unfamiliar opening phrases ‘God save our gracious King!’ – on the Final Night time Of The Proms on Saturday.
Music heightens the feelings greater than every other artwork type and the Proms would have caught with pitch-perfect tone the nation’s outpourings of grief, remembrance and celebration.
However ‘as a mark of respect’ to the Queen, the BBC determined to cancel the Proms on each Friday and Saturday nights.
Respect is nice, after all, and the reverse – for the BBC to have pursued the Proms with out marking the Queen’s loss of life on the occasion – would have been worse.
However even when the rules behind Auntie’s determination had been admirable, it was nonetheless the improper name.
HARRY MOUNT: How shifting it might have been to have heard the hovering strains of the nationwide anthem – with its unfamiliar opening phrases ‘God save our gracious King!’ – on the Final Night time Of The Proms (pictured in 2018) on Saturday.
A musical spectacular, broadcast to hundreds of thousands and that includes a programme whose essence has been unchanged since 1947 would have been completely in step with marking Her Majesty’s life.
From Rule Britannia to Elgar’s Pomp And Circumstance No. 1 Land Of Hope And Glory and Parry’s Jerusalem – to say nothing of the Fantasia On British Sea Songs – would have stirred the viewers’s hearts.
The setting, the Royal Albert Corridor – constructed for Prince Albert by his widow Queen Victoria – was additionally completely applicable. And the Queen herself was a fan of the Proms – she attended the Final Night time in 2006 as a part of her Eightieth-birthday celebrations.
She additionally beloved the Royal Albert Corridor, named for her great-great grandfather, and yearly she faithfully attended the Royal British Legion’s Pageant of Remembrance there.
Mercifully, the BBC’s information protection has caught the nationwide temper nicely within the aftermath of the Queen’s loss of life. However Auntie typically struggles with brazenly patriotic occasions and particularly the Final Night time Of The Proms.
Bear in mind the embarrassment of 2020? It was the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests and questions on slavery and the empire had been dominating the nationwide dialogue.
On this febrile local weather, the BBC sought to downgrade the enjoying of Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory on the Proms for worry of being too overtly nationalistic.
The Queen additionally beloved the Royal Albert Corridor, named for her great-great grandfather, and yearly she faithfully attended the Royal British Legion’s Pageant of Remembrance there. Pictured leaving the Royal Albert Corridor
What the Company ought to study to do is really feel extra comfy with the patriotism of most of its licence-fee payers.
To be honest, the Beeb was not the one organisation to overreact in these fraught hours following the Queen’s sudden loss of life. The identical goes for the soccer authorities who unexpectedly cancelled matches over the weekend.
Rugby and cricket fixtures, nonetheless, did go forward – and there was one thing deeply poignant about the way in which these occasions had been carried out.
On the Oval Take a look at, for instance, a minute’s silence was completely noticed by the gang, whereas the gamers movingly walked on to the pitch accompanied by a guard of honour comprising army personnel.
And if ITV in all probability went too far the opposite approach – resuming regular Saturday-night viewing together with The Masked Dancer, The Voice UK and Who Needs To Be a Millionare? – then that may be put right down to a industrial determination. The general public, nonetheless, nonetheless appears to be like to Auntie to set the best steadiness at occasions of disaster.
An embodiment of the wartime slogan ‘Preserve Calm and Carry On’, the Queen, I believe, would by no means have insisted that the soccer and the Proms be closed, not to mention the Hackney Carnival or any of the opposite occasions abruptly cancelled instantly after her loss of life.
As an alternative, she would have understood that such events may be alternatives that permit folks to assemble and grieve collectively. Sure, her state funeral per week at the moment have to be sacrosanct.
However in any other case, regular occasions must be going forward – and the BBC ought to have held its nerve.
Harry Mount is the writer of How England Made The English (Penguin)