While the UK celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee over the bank holiday weekend, a reissue of Sex Pistols‘ infamous anarchist punk classic ‘God Save The Queen’ hit the top of the UK charts on Saturday.
Following its re-release on Friday, the single almost immediately shot to number one 45 years to the day from when it was infamously denied the top spot. The hit was originally released by the band in 1977, with intentions of overlapping the Queen’s Silver Jubilee that year.
However, the song encountered a total ban on radio airplay from the BBC due to its anti-royalist slant. This would ordinarily serve as a kiss of death for a single, but despite the ban, the Pistols gained unprecedented attention, and the song managed to reach number two on the UK singles chart falling just short of Rod Stewart’s ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’.
Originally titled ‘No Future,’ the song was banned for containing lyrics comparing the UK to “a fascist regime” and claiming that the Queen is “not a human being.” However, lead singer John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) would later clarify: “You don’t write ‘God Save the Queen’ because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them, and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.”
In a recent editorial for the UK Times, Lydon also said he doesn’t have any “animosity” toward the royal family and even wrote “God bless the Queen. She’s put up with a lot.”
He also commented on his modern relationship to the concept of anarchy, saying, “Anarchy is a terrible idea. Let’s get that clear. I’m not an anarchist… And I’m amazed that there are websites out there – .org anarchist sites – funded fully by the corporate hand and yet ranting on about being outside the shitstorm. It’s preposterous.”
To commemorate the reissue and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the band also released a collectable coin and NFT displaying a Union Jack design on one side and the Queen (complete with safety pin lip piercings) on the other.