For all the uproar it caused 45 years ago, for all the controversy and outrage, it’s hard in retrospect not to see the Sex Pistols’ world-changing single “God Save the Queen” for what it was: Rebellious young people with a Svengali-like manager trying to be shocking (and succeeding). Deliberately released the week before the Silver Jubilee, a major national celebration observing her 25 years as on the throne, the song was just a loud raspberry (and, not incidentally, a stone-cold rock and roll classic). They didn’t really believe the Queen wasn’t a human being or led a fascist regime, whatever issues they might have had with the concept of royalty.
And while the group’s singer and lyricist, John Lydon a.k.a. Rotten, certainly had issues with the institution of monarchy (and has had other issues in recent years, leaning conservative and voicing support for both Donald Trump and Brexit), he said in a commentary this past June that he never had one with the Queen or the royal family.
“God bless the Queen. She’s put up with a lot,” he wrote in an op-ed for British publication The Times. “I’ve got no animosity against any one of the royal family. Never did. It’s the institution of it that bothers me and the assumption that I’m to pay for that. There’s where I draw the line. It’s like, ‘No, you’re not getting ski holidays on my tax.’”
With all of that in mind, it’s no surprise to see him respectfully, and slightly self-referentially, paying his respects on his website the morning after the Queen’s death was announced.
It simply says, “Rest in Peace Queen Elizabeth II.
“Send her victorious.
“From all at johnlydon.com.”
The “send her victorious” quote is from the original, official version of “God Save the Queen,” and it is illustrated with the original, unaltered portrait of Queen Elizabeth that was used on the cover of the Pistols’ legendary single.
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