‘This is daft – Mum would sing at Last Night if she were here’: Dame Vera Lynn’s daughter hits out at decision to perform Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory at Proms without vocals
Dame Vera Lynn would still be singing Land of Hope and Glory if she were alive, her daughter said yesterday.
Virginia Lewis-Jones said it was ‘wonderful’ that a rendition of the track by the forces’ sweetheart topped the charts after the race row about its meaning.
A social media drive has been launched for the recording by Dame Vera – who died in June aged 103 – to be played during the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms.
Speaking out: Virginia Lewis-Jones with her mother, Dame Vera
Mrs Lewis-Jones, 74, claimed the song is against slavery and her mother would be proud of her for speaking out. She said: ‘I feel that I can see my mother now saying ‘You tell ’em girl’. She would feel the same thing and if she were here now she would be singing it.’
The 1902 lyrics of Land of Hope and Glory are associated with Cecil Rhodes – the British imperialist whose statue is being removed from an Oxford college.
The Proms will feature an orchestrated version of the song without lyrics after organisers reportedly expressed a desire to reduce patriotic elements to reflect the international anti-racism movement.
Mrs Lewis-Jones said that the song was particularly meaningful to her mother, who sang it on VE Day in 1945.
When asked about the BBC’s decision, she said: ‘It is daft and I can’t understand it. You try to stop 12,000 people in the Royal Albert Hall plus all those outside from not singing it. How are you going to do that? Especially if mummy’s record has gone to number one. What it could do is put a lot of people’s backs up and defeat the object of whatever they were trying to do.’
Icon: Dame Vera Lynn topped the iTunes chart on Wednesday
Mrs Lewis-Jones added: ‘My mother is a British icon and she cared a lot about this country and the Commonwealth. Mummy was always very apolitical.
‘One has to appreciate that this was written around 100 or so years ago. But not only that, the words are meaningful for everybody.
‘The song is against slavery, not for it. It is an appalling thing and we all still know that unfortunately racism to a certain extent does go on in this country. And we have all got to fight it. I’m a mixed bag myself. Daddy was Jewish, mum was Church of England and I went to Catholic school.’
The campaign behind the Dame Vera version was launched by Defund the BBC – a group which aims to decriminalise failure to pay the licence fee.
Her rendition topped the iTunes digital songs chart on Wednesday.
The UK’s top-selling songs are usually played during BBC Radio 1’s chart show but there have been some exceptions.
For example, when Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead reached number two following the death of Lady Thatcher, the BBC did not play the track in full.
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