‘Anarchy in the UK’ Can Wait – Queen Elizabeth’s Passing Commands Respect, Even From Johnny Rotten

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

While no stranger to criticizing England’s monarchy, politics, upper class, working class, anarchism, lack of anarchism—the list goes on …and on —John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, set all of that aside this morning (Sept. 9).

Like many musicians upon hearing the news of her passing, the singer took to social media to bid Queen Elizabeth farewell. Lydon kept it short, sweet, and civil with a tweet, reading “Rest in Peace Queen Elizabeth II. Send her victorious.”

The post shows a picture of Her Majesty in all her crowned glory, which is a far cry from the Queen depicted on the cover of the Sex Pistol riotous, anarchist single “God Save the Queen.” The band used the same black-and-white photograph back in 1977, blacking out her eyes and mouth to print over her features with the song’s title and their band name.

Never ones to shy away from making a statement, the band honored Queen Elizabeth on her Silver Jubilee. The Sex Pistols famously took a boat trip down the River Thames during her procession on June 7, 1977, to advertise the release of “God Save the Queen.” They performed the anti-monarchal tune – loud and proud – for all who would listen. Once the boat docked, eleven people, including members of the band’s entourage, were arrested.

The song—its title taken directly from the British national anthem—was highly controversial for its criticism of the monarchy, rhyming queen with fascist regime. The song was reportedly an attempt to empathize with the working class while also expressing resentment toward the crown. “You don’t write ‘God Save the Queen’ because you hate the English race,” Lydon has later explained, “You write a song like that because you love them; and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.”

“God Save the Queen” – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)

God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
A potential H bomb


God save the queen
She’s not a human being
and There’s no future
And England’s dreaming


Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need
There’s no future
No future
No future for you


God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves


God save the queen
‘Cause tourists are money
And our figurehead
Is not what she seems


Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid


Oh when there’s no future
How can there be sin
We’re the flowers
In the dustbin
We’re the poison
In your human machine
We’re the future
Your future


God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves


God save the queen
We mean it man
There’s no future
In England’s dreaming

God save the queen


No future
No future
No future for you


No future
No future
No future for me


No future
No future
No future for you

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