Flag waving at the Proms

Some have expressed regret that someone gave out a lot of EU flags for people to wave at the Last Night of the Proms. Relax, I say. I have no problem with people coming from the continent to enjoy our traditions and wanting to wave the flag of their emerging state.

It may help to remind readers that the Last Night of the Proms has a very UK patriotic second half. The audience gets most animated in support of Henry Wood’s Fantasia of seas shanties. He wrote this as a nine part celebration of the experiences of the ordinary seaman at Trafalgar, for the 100th anniversary of the battle in 1905. It included “See the conquering hero comes” and “Rule Britannia”. The latter has now obtained her own slot after the sea shanties. It was good of so many to join in with the commemoration of the UK’s naval traditions. His original medley has been adapted since.

The first tune is from the “Saucy Arethusa”. This was written in celebration of the first English victory over the French at the start of the American War of Independence. A tough battle between the English 32 gun frigate Arethusa ( captured from the French navy in 1759 and re commissioned) and the 36 gun Belle Poule, a French frigate, 30 miles off the Lizard was in practice inclusive. Both vessels were badly damaged with many dead, and both retreated to recover. The British claimed victory because they captured two smaller French vessels, having a superior force at sea. The French also claimed victory as the Belle Poule escaped from the superior force and did not have to bow to the British commands.

(The navy was still often called the English navy in the C18. At the time of this battle Scotland , England and Wales were united so it was by then the British navy. Ireland joined the Union in 1800, after this battle but before Trafalgar)


  1. Anonymous
    September 10, 2017

    “Thank EU for the music !” said one Remain banner.

    As ever, the EU appropriating for itself the achievements of others even before its inception, first world peace, now classical music.

    One Remainer said that Beethoven would have been banned from Brexit Britain. Seeing as Chopin visited pre EU Britain twice that is unlikely.

    1. Ironing bord
      September 10, 2017

      Who ARE these “Remainers”? They do not exist in my locality. There were people who voted Remain, but they ceased to exist as Remainers after the result. The only Remainers now are in Parliament and renounce democracy. Their MP-ships, in accordance with their democratic views should be considered null and void as people “didn’t know what they were voting for”

  2. Peter
    September 10, 2017

    The Proms are very over rated. I have been to some concerts but I don’t understand why people would get a season ticket to watch every concert – or even most of them. The Last Night of The Proms is a particularly tiresome event, though the organisers have expanded on it and now offer outside broadcasts to the general public in addition to the BBC live showing.

    The flag waving is a minor issue that gets more publicity than it warrants.

    1. Mitchel
      September 11, 2017

      Far,far fewer EU flags on display from the outside London events.

  3. The PrangWizard
    September 10, 2017

    I am not relaxed when we all know full well it was politically motivated and subversive.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2017

      I have no real problem with people waving whatever flags they want to, dressing how they want to or having whatever messages on their T shirts they want.

      I do however have a problem with governments telling me what to think, what flag I have to wave, what greencrap science I have to “believe” or making me have the EU flag on my car or my passport. I also have a problem with a democracy where you elect MPs who cannot represent their constituents due to all the real controls being EU based and totally anti-democratic.

    2. Denis Cooper
      September 10, 2017

      One reason it happened again this year is that the Department for Exiting the EU is not bothering to rebut the constant barrage of pro-EU propaganda.

  4. ian wragg
    September 10, 2017

    I usually enjoy the Proms season but I’m afraid that I no longer watch any BBC content.
    I have just watched Bliar on Marr and the interview was a travesty of Brussels propaganda.
    When is the government going to put a stop to this taxpayer funded entity which ignores its charter and is a blatant outlet for the left.
    I served in the RN and spent 6 years in Subs. We now only have a shadow of our former armed forces and all parties are to blame.
    Spraying money at third world despots and Brussels fantacists whilst running down our ability to defend ourselves is unforgivable.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2017

      Indeed Blair was absurd but then he always was time he became a catholic trappist monk and just spent his time repenting.

      We have a competition authority, but they never address the biggest anti-competive forces in the economy. The unfairly taxpayer funded BBC, the dire state monopoly of the NHS and subsidised social housing – for life (just for some, but paid for by others who are often rather poorer).

  5. Yossarion
    September 10, 2017

    Why did the Scottish and Welsh BBC audience leave us just before Rule Britannia? as for the the flag and the March, well the March was against democracy so the the flag embodies the diktat

    1. Richard1
      September 10, 2017

      Is that really correct?! The politicisation of any & all BBC content is becoming absurd.

  6. James neill
    September 10, 2017

    Yes and as a matter of interest 22 nationalities altogether fought on the british side at trafalgar 1805 and included 3600 irish who hailed mainly from southern ireland coastal counties. 7000 English and 1200 Scots were involved..quite a mix

    1. formula57
      September 11, 2017

      So the column in the Square is for them too!

  7. acorn
    September 10, 2017

    They are not from the continent JR, they are ours. They are not waving but drowning in neo-liberal bu****it. After three and a half decades of conning the 99% to give more national income to the 1%, the 99% have had enough of this democracy thing.

    Worth having a Google of “Historical amnesia is undermining European democracy” from LSE; I quote.

    “A recent study by the University of Leipzig found that one in every ten Germans (10.6 per cent) want their country to be led by a ‘Führer to rule with an iron fist for common prosperity.’ Likewise, 61 per cent of Austrians favour supporting a ‘strong leader who does not have to worry about a parliament or elections’ and 40 per cent of the French state that their country should be put in the hands of ‘an authoritarian government’ free from democratic constraints.”

    “A similar dictatorial nostalgia is flourishing in former communist countries. The majority of Russians (52 per cent) say Stalin played a positive role in their country; 81 per cent of Serbians believe they lived best with Tito; and 66 per cent of Romanians claim that they would vote for Ceausescu in presidential elections, a number that represents a 25 per cent increase from 2011.”

  8. Mark
    September 10, 2017

    It used to be the case that the penultimate night of the Proms had a performance of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony that contains the Ode to Joy now adopted by the EU as its anthem. I see that this year, the 9th was programmed on 30th July and televised: surely that would have been the concert to wave EU flags?

  9. DaveM
    September 10, 2017

    I have to say, as much as I am aware of the alleged BBC agenda, the BBC producers diverted attention from the EU flags whenever they started waving. Incidentally, those flags were handed out by pro-EU dissidents at the venue – evidenced by the fact that there were practically no EU flags in Hyde Park.

    The Union Jacks won the day.

  10. larryB
    September 10, 2017

    I did a bit of flag waving as well…semaphore..back in my navy days

  11. Iain Gill
    September 10, 2017

    The proms is nonsense. A style of music heavily subsidised by the state, paid for by the masses against their will through their taxes and enjoyed in all its subsidised glory by a very small section of society, broadcast by a state broadcaster long past its sell by date paid for by the masses against their will by threat of prison if not paying a licence fee and protecting a self selected insular narrow set of views and middle class rump of dead weight people in its output.

    1. Stephen Berry
      September 11, 2017

      Iain, I too wish very much that the Licence Fee were made voluntary and I also recognise that classical music (particularly opera) receives a subsidy from the the state. But classical music has a wide following in this country and around the world. The vast majority of classical output will not be at the taxpayers’ expense, as a trip to a record store will confirm.

      BBC controllers from William Glock to John Drummond were very uncomfortable with the last night of the Proms, but so far the Promenaders have seen off the attempts to change this popular institution.


      Never a great flag waver of any kind, I spared myself the sight of the EU flags by listening on the radio. I suppose I have done a number of silly things in my life, but I don’t think I will ever do anything as silly and incongruous as waving an EU flag when Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 is being played.

      1. Iain Gill
        September 12, 2017

        no subsidised arts and broadcasters are state interventions too far

        let the people keep the money and spend it on the art and broadcasters they prefer themselves, or indeed on anything else they prefer

  12. Plug
    September 10, 2017

    The Last Night at the Proms and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are two events which despite my being a patriot and living in an -ism ( patriot-ism ) which is the last refuge of as scoundrel according to either Sam Johnson or George Bernie Shaw are… boring. Mind numbingly boring. Something you are supposed to enjoy because your mother told you to, but you just can’t however you try.

  13. Nerwmania
    September 11, 2017

    I have been to the proms many times and the Last night , once or twice. This sort of visible statement from remain ( who do not come form the continent natch ) is hugely heartening for all of us who are determined that our country can still be saved from Brexit.
    Europe is roughly what was once called Christendom , more a cultural than a geographical concept. To this day , boys and girls from Warsaw to Warrington do the same piano lessons and follow the same so called “classical” tradition. I did them myself .
    There could hardly be a better place to assert Britians place within Europe and I hope to see similiar statements from the true patriots who actually create our cultural life .

    1. Edward2
      September 11, 2017

      I think you are confusing Europe with the EU.
      Two very different cultures.

      1. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        September 11, 2017

        @Edward2: All the same culture, but not to well comprehended by “our British friends and partners” 🙂
        Also the UK politicians and media usually refer to “Europe” when they talk about the EU.

        1. James Matthews
          September 11, 2017

          Nope. Upwards of forty different cultures not even united by a common language.

          1. Edward2
            September 11, 2017

            I agree James.
            This is the main reason the EU’s attempt to create one huge nation out of all of Europe’s diversities is going to fail.

          2. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
            September 11, 2017

            @James Matthews: European culture indeed has many languages and traditions.

        2. NickC
          September 11, 2017

          PvL, Similar culture; not the same. Similar to the USA too. By your logic all of the western tip of the Eurasian continent should willingly accept all USA laws and institutions as supreme.

          The only UK politicians that say “Europe” when the correct term is the EU, are either ignorant, or Remains.

    2. DaveM
      September 11, 2017

      “Europe is roughly what was once called Christendom , more a cultural than a geographical concept…”

      True, but try googling the Treaty of Westphalia 1648.

  14. fedupsoutherner
    September 11, 2017

    Sorry John, cannot agree with your sentiments on this one. Last Night of the Proms is a shadow of what it used to be and has become politicised by the BBC. Shame on them. I would say the BBC is the biggest promoter of left wing propaganda we have in the UK. Just about as anti Conservative and anti UK as you can get.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 13, 2017

      Indeed the BBC are wrong on every issue just like the Libdims.

  15. Bryan Harris
    September 11, 2017

    I must admit to enjoying only the last night of the Proms these days, for much else is music that has little appeal – The BBC has reverted to type and provided a mix of music to go with its PC dogma.

    EU flags, well sounds pretty desperate to me if the remoaners sink to such inane actions, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of how far they can sink.

    Did somebody say that it was the BBC giving out those silly flags?

  16. Cheshire Girl
    September 11, 2017

    I have no problem at all with seeing flags of other countries being waved at Last
    Night of the Proms. Hopefully, everyone has pride in their own country. However I did notice that though there were several EU flags in the Albert Hall, I had a problem in seeing any/many when they switched to Hyde Park. I wonder if we can draw anything from that.

  17. formula57
    September 11, 2017

    I may well wave an EU flag myself, on our Liberation Day, as a symbol saying “goodbye”.

    It was very notable I thought that during the Scottish referendum D. Cameron saw to it that the St. Andrew’s flag flew over Downing Street (when he at last got around to thinking to do so) but in the Brexit referendum he made no similar provision for the EU flag, for some reason or other never explained.

  18. Sakara Gold
    September 11, 2017

    Ah if only we could turn back the clock and return to the days of British naval supremacy….the last night of the Proms is a wonderful BBC tradition enjoyed by millions…..I was amused that some wag had distributed EU flags to the audience, doubtless calculating that this would enrage the Brexiteers viewing the spectacle. A wonderful night’entertainment:)

  19. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
    September 11, 2017

    We’re always make a point of waving a union jack when watching “the last night of the proms” from the comfort of our living room. 🙂 In the Netherlands it was shown on BBC1 and NDR, which reminds me: In Britain this summer, hardly any continental TV channels were available and no other languages than English! What a lack of civilization and broad based information! 🙂

    1. Mark
      September 11, 2017

      When I lived in the Hague we took the local standard cable subscription. I recall watching ‘Allo ‘Allo with Dutch/Flemish subtitles (which was good for improving my knowledge of Dutch idiom) from a Belgian station, and Bond movies from a German one (those were dubbed into German). I think we had TF1, and a Swiss station and BBC1/2. True Dutch content was somewhat limited, but then again you don’t have billions to spend on creating content. Terrestrial broadcast TV was somewhat more limited. Had we opted for satellite, I’m sure the range of stations would have opened up considerably.

      Had you had access to satellite or cable TV in the UK, you might have found a large number of foreign language stations – but perhaps broadcasting in languages with which you are not familiar:


      Of course, by aiming a satellite dish a couple of degrees over, it is easy to pick up all sorts of stations broadcast to Europe and further afield. My parents have Italian neighbours who do just that.

    2. a-tracy
      September 11, 2017

      I didn’t know you got the BBC in the Netherlands is it a subscription service or do you have to pay the licence fee?

      1. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        September 11, 2017

        The most basic Dutch TV subscription includes – besides Dutch channels – BBC1, BBC2, and BBCfirst. It also includes broadcasters from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and another French channel (TVmonde).

      2. miami.mode
        September 11, 2017

        Good point that, a-t. Many hotels abroad have BBC available but UK BBC licence payers need to be a bit tech savvy to get the i-player on their own devices when abroad.

        There are quite a few articles on the internet about this, but in a nutshell it would appear that in excess of 100 million people per month watch the i-player without paying a for it.

        This really needs sorting out as similar to foreign use of the NHS, EHIC cards, child benefit, plus probably other things, we are being had for mugs.

    3. Anonymous
      September 11, 2017

      I agree, PvL

      The paucity of language skills in the UK is lamentable but it has left us free to punch above our weight in other areas of human progress.

  20. Bert Young
    September 12, 2017

    I am disgusted with the news today ( 12th ) that the BBC did not show the last features of the programme to viewers in Scotland and Wales . It is not their God given right to decide what the Scots and the Welsh want ; ” Rule Britannia ” and ” Land of Hope and Glory ” have as much relevance to Scotland and Wales as they do to England .

    The BBC have now gone too far and must be closed down . The Government should not shirk its responsibility over this matter .

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