Australian U-turn over "God Save the Queen."

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Australian U-turn on the national anthem
By Nick Squires in Sydney
(Filed: 04/03/2006)


Australia: Changed its mind and decided to show some politeness.


God Save the Queen will be performed at the opening ceremony of this month's Commonwealth Games (the Commonwealth's equivalent of the Olympics) after all, Australian officials said yesterday.

The announcement reversed the decision to play only the Australian national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. But the New Zealand opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will sing only eight bars of God Save the Queen before the head of state in Melbourne on March 15.

The compromise followed protests from monarchists and the prime minister, John Howard, who criticised the earlier decision. Playing God Save the Queen was simply a matter of good manners, Mr Howard had said.

The opening ceremony's artistic director, Andrew Walsh, said the Australian anthem would still be the main one.

"You might hear a few bars of the royal anthem as part of a tribute to the Queen but it's not ever played in its entirety," he said.

"(The Queen) is the head of state of Australia, and as such we want to respect that and we want to honour her pending status as an octogenarian."

telegraph.co.uk