Gareth Malone says Queen’s death has given national anthem new meaning

·3-min read
Gareth Malone (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
Gareth Malone (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

Gareth Malone has revealed he always thought the British national anthem was “restrained” but feels the death of the Queen has given it new meaning.

Speaking to The One Show on Tuesday, the choirmaster and composer reflected on how King Charles III’s ascension to the throne has officially changed the words of the piece to God Save The King and that it may be generations until it is sung for a Queen again.

He said: “I finally get the national anthem. It’s not been a piece of music that ever really struck a chord with me.

“I’ve always found the American one so emotive and ours is so restrained and yet this week it really got under my skin.

The Queen presents Gareth Malone with a Diamond Award for his contribution to British culture (Carl Court/PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen presents Gareth Malone with a Diamond Award for his contribution to British culture (Carl Court/PA) (PA Archive)

“I was watching a little bit of film of the previous coronation of the previous King and hearing the words God Save The King and it resonated with me that it will be years before anyone sings, generations even, (will) sing those words.

“It’s something I’ve taken for granted my whole life, this song, and now, I don’t know, it just has an added meaning, especially having met her and been at events where they sing that and I’ve sung it. It really has resonated with me.”

Malone, 46, also recalled a number of encounters with the late monarch including performing the official Diamond Jubilee single, titled Sing, at a concert to mark the occasion in 2012 alongside Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“It was just amazing to be stood there in front 250,000 people, I think it was, right in front of us and to have Her Majesty there was just so special,” he said.

The composer, who helped record the song Lord Lloyd-Webber and Barlow had written, revealed they also performed it privately for the Queen with some of the Military Wives.

He said the Queen was “always very tight-lipped about her opinions” but he felt there was a sense that she “really liked” the song.

Malone agreed with others’ sentiments about her humility, saying: “You didn’t feel a superiority, she didn’t play high status, she was quite jovial.”

He also recalled how she surprised him by appearing from behind a pillar while he was taking a look around Buckingham Palace.

“She just stood right in front of me and it was just one of those surreal moments,” he said.

“She’s very shy, kind of unassuming in a way, but obviously had this incredible presence and you were aware you were speaking to a great figure of history, and yet it was like talking to my grandmother or something.

“We chatted about music and I think we talked about the fact that Charles, of course, is a cellist, so I was excited to talk to her about music.”

Malone was made an OBE in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to music.