National anthem

When the first bars of music from the loudspeakers at U.S. military bases in England call people to attention and signal traffic to halt, we know what you’re thinking: Why are they playing the Liechtenstein national anthem?

Either that, or you’re sitting there mumbling the words to “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” a patently pro-American hymn, when all along you’ve meant to pay a little respect to your host nation with the original version of “God Save the Queen.”

Yes, one of America’s most treasured and patriotic songs is, in fact, based on the national anthem of the United Kingdom, originally written in honor of the monarchy. “God Save the Queen” began in widespread use as an anthem more than 200 years ago.

The confusion is understandable — the American version uses the exact same music but is set to different words, penned in the 1830s by a man named Samuel F. Smith.

Ditto the Liechtenstein anthem: same music different words, though even the original version changes depending on whether a king or queen is on the throne.

The original lyrics, for your edification:

“God save our gracious Queen, long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen:

Send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us, God save the Queen.”

Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at:

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