The Last Night of the Proms is a British institution, both the culmination of an eight-week annual series of classical-music concerts and an opportunity to indulge in the gauchest excesses of national pride. Broadcast simultaneously on BBC television and radio, the Last Night has for decades been awash with flags, fancy dress, and a veritable orgy of empire-era patriotism. Almost without fail, the set list includes “Jerusalem,” “Land of Hope and Glory,” and “Rule, Britannia!”
Except this year that won’t be the case. Not only has the coronavirus ensured that this year’s Last Night will be conducted without an audience, but a jumpier than usual BBC has announced that both “Land of Hope and Glory” and “Rule, Britannia!” would be performed without lyrics, due to their perceived association with Britain’s imperial history.