Organisers of the concert announced the line-up for the Last Night of the Proms ahead of the event on Saturday September 12 at Royal Albert Hall. A campaign to omit the Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from the concert has garnered widespread support on social media. Many backers had said the words of the songs were offensive and outdated and called for a ban on them being performed in public.
In a statement, the BBC said: “In light of the recent speculation about the Last Night of the Proms, we are today announcing the programme for the concert.
“We very much regret the unjustified personal attacks on Dalia Stasevska, BBC Symphony Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor made on social media and elsewhere.
“As ever, decisions about the Proms are made by the BBC, in consultation with all artists involved.
“The Proms will reinvent the Last Night in this extraordinary year so that it respects the traditions and spirit of the event whilst adapting to very different circumstances at this moment in time.
“With much reduced musical forces and no live audience, the Proms will curate a concert that includes familiar, patriotic elements such as Jerusalem and the National Anthem, and bring in new moments capturing the mood of this unique time, including You’ll Never Walk Alone, presenting a poignant and inclusive event for 2020.”
The BBC said the programme would include “new orchestral versions of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 “Land of Hope and Glory” (arr. Anne Dudley) and Rule Britannia! as part of the Sea Songs, as Henry Wood did in 1905”.
Dalia Stasevska, from Finland, is conducting the Last Night this year, with soprano Golda Schultz and the BBC Symphony Orchestra performing.
Ninety-six percent of respondents said no while just four percent said yes.
Only 109 (less than one percent) said they didn’t know.
Between 8.45am and 8.15pm a total of 19,790 readers took part in the survey.
The BBC’s confirmation comes after The Sunday Times reported that organisers feared a backlash because of the perceived association the traditional anthems have with colonialism and slavery.
Downing Street waded into the controversy and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he had written to the BBC over the issue.
A Number 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister believes in tackling the “substance” not the “symbols” of problems.
He said: “This is a decision and a matter for the organisers of the Proms and the BBC.
“But the PM previously has set out his position on like issues and has been clear that while he understands the strong emotions involved in these discussions, we need to tackle the substance of problems, not the symbols.”
Culture Secretary Mr Dowden said that “confident, forward-looking nations don’t erase their history”.
He wrote on Twitter: “Rule Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory are highlights of the Last Night of the Proms.
“(I) Share concerns of many about their potential removal and have raised this with (the) BBC.
“Confident forward-looking nations don’t erase their history, they add to it.”