PUNK vs ROYALS | God Save The Queen

PHOTO BY BARRY PLUMBER

PUNK vs ROYALS

It’s the late 70’s in Britain.

Queen Elizabeth was facing the build up to her Silver Jubilee, a nationwide – commonwealth-wide celebration for the 25th year anniversary of her accession to the throne.

Below on the ground, the air was tense with political unrest, the cities crumbled under a crippling heat wave and families faced bleak poverty. The government told the nation that the Jubilee would be something to ‘cheer them up’ amongst the unrest. Regardless, the majority of average citizens remained patriotically royalist.

Below ground, a new generation of teenagers graduated from alienated and confused to creative and angry. Furious at the hypocrisy of the government and the monarchy, the money spent, the dismissal of the people’s problems, they grouped for insurgence. Inspired by the French counter cultures and libertarians, they sought out to subvert the ethics and aesthetics of the establishment to expose their contradictions. This was Punk.

Anarchy in the UK poked fun at the disquiet and inequality, likening it to the war torn Ireland. Iconic British emblems were stolen and destroyed: the forbidden Royal Stewart was taken, British military wear, the Queen’s face. Then they were juxtaposed with images of Sex, the occult and Nazi symbols. They signed their contract to EMI outside Buckingham Palace, only to be fired ten days later. Jamie Reid printed Queen Elizabeth’s face and slashed her nose with a pin. Contrasted against a ripped Union Jack, they hung behind the Sex Pistol’s performances on stage. In May 1977, God Save the Queen was released. Originally seen as a hugely controversial attack on Queen Elizabeth and the monarchy, the band denies this still. They say they had no idea the Jubilee was even happening, and that the song was an effort to evoke sympathy for the British working class. As the Jubilee crept closer, Virgin had now signed the Sex Pistols, and Branson and McLaren planned a private boat trip along the Thames to mock the celebratory procession for the Queen. Keen for chaos, it didn’t end in the way many had hoped. There are many who quote this as the bitter, weird end to whole movement.

Here we are now, a country taken over with Royal Wedding hysteria once more. And of course the Punks remain as much of a British Import, their faces on as many mugs, as the Royal Family.

As anti-royalist as the Punks were, where would they be without them? Without the ripped red, white and blue of the Union Jacks or the safety pinned face of the Queen; even without Never Mind the Bollocks’ slew of abuse at HRH… what would be left of Punk? What would a counter culture be if they had nothing to fight against? Can the anarchic youth exist without an establishment?

Their whole ethos, sound and style were geared to rail against the monarchy. The Royal Family were at the centre of their rage and their vision.

 

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God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
A potential H bomb
God save the queen
She’s not a human being
and There’s no future
And England’s dreaming
Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need
There’s no future
No future
No future for you
God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves
God save the queen
‘Cause tourists are money
And our figurehead
Is not what she seems
Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid
Oh when there’s no future
How can there be sin
We’re the flowers
In the dustbin
We’re the poison
In your human machine
We’re the future
Your future
God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves
God save the queen
We mean it man
There’s no future
In England’s dreaming God save the queen
No future
No future
No future for you
No future
No future
No future for me
No future
No future
No future for you