top of page

God Save the King?

Grimesy, Class Consciousness Project

Aug 3, 2023

“A class cannot exist in society without in some degree manifesting a consciousness of itself as a group with common problems, interests and prospects”

– Harry Braverman

The Queen is dead. Long Live the King!

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we have changed our national anthem from ‘God Save the Queen’ to ‘God Save the King’ with the ascension to the throne of the former Prince of Wales as King Charles III. The terminology of ‘God Save the King’ is the most recognisable of the royal proclamations, with connotations that the King, or Queen, is chosen by God to rule over us as loyal and faithful subjects. In a modern society that has all but abandoned religion, this is no longer relevant. It arguably isn’t relevant in a god-fearing nation. So, for what reason is a King anointed by God as head of state in a state that rejects god?

The origins of ‘God Save the King’ are, obviously biblical, from Psalms 19:

“They are bound, and have fallen; but we are risen, and are set upright. O Lord, save the king: and hear us in the day that we shall call upon thee.”

In this Psalm it explains how the earthly King David prays to his sovereign king of the universe (aka God) for strength to overcome his enemies, asserting that a king on earth is appointed by God, who is in turn his lord, to rule over us as his representative on earth. If a great God has given you his hand to rule, then what need does he have for democracy?

This belief endured for centuries, not only enshrining the King but his extended royal family and, through this, into class society, where members of the upper echelons of society were free from persecution and accountable to nobody but the king or God, as they were where they were by the grace of God himself. In doing so, this created the ruling classes, and their bloodlines, which are bestowed such haughty status for no other reason than who they are and to whom they were born. By this logic, the lower class, the poor workers, are where they belong by birth, and no amount of hard work or wealth can change this.

Domine Salvum Fac RegemLatin for ‘God Save the King’, was first used as the royal motto in the reign of King Henry VI. This may have been because he was the youngest crowned King at just nine months old after the death of his father, Henry V. ‘God Save the King’ may have been seen as a hopeful prayer at this point due to his extremely young age and it being at a pivotal moment in the 100-years war. This motto was used continuously by subsequent kings and queens and was placed at the end of all royal proclamations when translated into English, beseeching God to continually support his representatives on earth.

This phrase was then immortalised within the words of the song that was to become the national anthem, a song that praises victory and wishes happiness on the currently-serving monarch.

Friedrich Nietzsche said “God is dead”. In modern society, especially in the west, that sentiment is quite true. God is dead and man has taken his place, moulding the world in his own image, deciding his own future and his own morals. Therefore, why do we continue to proclaim, “God Save the King”? In fact, why do we still have a monarchy? If there is no belief in God, then there is no need for his representative on earth to rule over us. In fact, if God doesn’t exists, then he cannot appoint a human to rule over us. In a modern godless society, democracy of the people should be the order of the day. Anything else is simply barbarism.

So why does the monarchy still exist? It exists to buttress the class structure. Despite people no longer believing they are where they are by the grace of God, the bourgeoisie still believe that they belong as the ruling elite as their birthright and want it to stay that way. The difference now is that they make us believe we can transcend from mere worker to the upper echelons of class society, which is just as untrue now as it was in the 1600s. Serfdom may no longer exist, but capitalism has created a class structure in which ties people to their class like serfdom tied serfs to the land. This is why they find communism so abhorrent. They believe the proletarian (the worker) is a lowly miserable soul who has no right to choose their own destiny, never mind emancipate themselves and overthrow the ruling class.

The Monarchy endures to uphold the British class structure. The words ‘God Save the King’ (or Queen) is to continually remind us of that class structure. Every sporting event where you clutch your heart and sing ‘Long to reign over us’ acts to remind British workers that we are ‘reigned over’. We realise the monarchy no longer holds the power to dictate the laws of the land as they once did, but they continue to exist as an integral part of the ruling class, partly as landlords by dint of owning the largest amount of land in the world.

We may look at the Royals as an antiquated phenomenon in our society that, as they would like us to believe, serve as ambassadors and bring in a level of charm for tourists to enjoy, but there is a level of insidiousness in their ability to still have a very rich and luxurious existence in what, at least on its face, is a democratic country. If we want to rid ourselves of the shackles of capitalism and the domination of the ruling class over the working class, we need to remove those who pull on our chains.

bottom of page