According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, 26 February 2006, the organizers of the Commonwealth Games, M2006, have decided not to play the royal anthem at the opening ceremony.
An M2006 spokeswoman said this week: "We are not required to play the English national anthem at the opening ceremony and we shall not be playing the English national anthem at the opening ceremony."
This response demonstrates that those who have taken this decision are uninformed. When I was contacted by the Herald Sun, I pointed out that God Save the Queen is not only the British National Anthem, it is the Royal Anthem in Australia, and should be played when The Queen, Governor-General or Governors are present. I said it was a mistake to think it is only the British Anthem.
I said that the public would expect The Queen to be treated courteously. I doubted that The Queen would take offence but I thought the public would be both disappointed and embarrassed.
The newspaper reported my further comment: "It seems ungracious, not so much even to the Queen, but to people at the ceremony and those watching,"
"It would seem appropriate at some stage during the opening ceremony to play the royal anthem. I think most people would be pleased to hear it in the presence of The Queen. It is, after all, her 80th year."
I recalled that the authorities had already removed the Royal Anthem from the Anzac Day ceremonies in Melbourne, which was disappointing to those accustomed to hearing it these many years. There is no reason why both the National Anthem and the Royal Anthem cannot be played. This is the correct protocol on these occasions.
According to the Herald Sun, a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman was diplomatic over the issue.
"The Queen is a guest, she is opening the Games, but M2006 is the host. If that is what they have deemed appropriate then we will go by that," she said.
Notwithstanding the graciousness of this response, the fact remains that this uninformed decision is an embarrassment and should be quietly reversed.