Why are we lost for words in God Save the Queen?
ROYAL Tunbridge Wells will get plenty of opportunities to belt out the national anthem this summer in support of the Queen, Team GB and England footballers – but will we be able to?
A snap poll by the Courier on whether residents of the Royal town know the first verse of the national anthem returned a result some would consider treasonable.
We surveyed 100 Tunbridge Wells residents and found only 23 people could recite the first seven lines from God Save The Queen.
Vice-president of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, John Cunningham, was surprised at our results.
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He said: "I thought almost everybody knows the national anthem.
"I think a national anthem serves its purpose in all countries.
"It is not something that is essential but it is desirable: just as you know to look left and right to cross the road you should know the words to the national anthem."
The younger generation fared worst in our poll, with only three people aged under 20 knowing the words and only two among the 20 to 36 age group.
Residents over 65 were the most familiar with the lyrics, with 46 per cent able to recite the anthem.
Many respondents who knew the lyrics said they learnt them when they were young, either at school or at clubs such as Scouts, Girl Guides and Brownies.
Some schools in Tunbridge Wells, including Rusthall St Paul's CE Primary School and Broadwater Down Primary School, said it was teaching pupils the words specifically for the Jubilee festivities.
New Mayor John Smith, who has written to the Queen on behalf of residents, took a pragmatic view of our results.
He said: "I think on special and significant occasions it should be sung. But the UK is very different to how it was 20 years ago."
Patriotic Calverley Road office worker James Waters, 33, said knowing the words was important. "I think people should learn the national anthem to share in the passion we feel for the country and others in the Commonwealth," he said.
Mike Warren, vicar of St Peter's Church in Bayhall Road, said: "I think it is good to know the national anthem.
"If people knew how to sing it better, perhaps it would be more uniting.
"The fact that the national anthem isn't terribly well known means it can't be a strong uniting force – whether it should be is a moot point."