BBC Proms: Organisers confirm 'patriotic' songs will stay - but without lyrics

Orchestral versions of Land Of Hope And Glory and Rule Britannia! will be performed at the famous Last Night Of The Proms, the BBC has confirmed.

The traditional anthems had reportedly been in doubt due to their perceived association with colonialism and slavery.

The broadcaster has said the culmination of the annual celebration of classical music will include "familiar, patriotic elements".

It comes after The Sunday Times claimed organisers were considering dropping several traditional songs in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The newspaper claimed Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska was "keen to modernise the evening's repertoire and reduce the patriotic elements".

And it said the BBC was "yet to agree" the final programme amid "concern" about "how to respond to the ongoing debates over race equality".

Fury then broke out about the event, which usually takes place in September in front of more than 6,000 at the Royal Albert Hall - but will this year be without an audience due to coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman intervened to say songs should not be dropped from the performance and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted he had raised his concerns with the BBC.

A spokesperson for the broadcaster initially said they were "still finalising arrangements".

Then on Monday evening, a new statement clarified the instrumental versions of traditional songs including Land Of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia! will still feature.

The spokesperson confirmed with "much reduced musical forces", the Proms will "curate a concert that includes familiar, patriotic elements such as Jerusalem and the national anthem", including performances from soprano Golda Schultz and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

You'll Never Walk Alone will also be added to the programme so the set is "capturing the mood of this unique time", they added.

The BBC also said "we very much regret the unjustified personal attacks" on Ms Stasevska and clarified: "As ever, decisions about the Proms are made by the BBC, in consultation with all artists involved."