Ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon went by Johnny Rotten during the 1970s golden age of punk and famously gave angry, snarled voice to the era’s anti-monarchist sentiment with the band’s scabrous musical indictment “God Save the Queen.”
Times — and Johnny — have changed.
Today Lydon released a short and very sweet statement to honor Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday.
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“Rest in Peace Queen Elizabeth II,” Lydon wrote on his website and in a tweet. “Send her victorious.” He accompanied the message with a classic Cecil Beaton portrait of the Queen, sans the safety pin piercing that became an iconic punk image. (See the post below.)
“Send her victorious” is a quote from Britain’s national anthem “God Save The Queen”:
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.
The sentiment is a long way from the Pistols’ headline-making hit “God Save the Queen,” which became a punk anthem (and national scandal) with lyrics like, “God save the Queen/She ain’t no human being” and “God save the queen/’Cause tourists are money/And our figurehead/
Is not what she seems.”
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The song was released in 1977 during Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee celebrations. The BBC banned it, adding to its infamy.
Lydon’s turnabout isn’t quite so shocking, though, to anyone who has been keeping up with the Public Limited Ltd. singer — he’s long expressed his personal fondness for the Queen. In a 2017 interview with UK music site The Quietus, Lydon said he dreaded the inevitable use of the Sex Pistols song when the Queen dies.
The song, he said, was “about a political situation and the demand for obedience to a monarchy I don’t believe in. But she’s a human being and I will sorely miss her as a human being on Planet Earth. It’s not her fault she was born into a gilded cage. Long may she live.”