The song was reissued on Friday and almost immediately launched into the No. 1 spot — 45 years to the day after it was infamously denied the top slot. The hit was originally released by the band in 1977, meant to overlap with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee that year.
However, the song earned a total ban on radio airplay from the BBC — what would normally be a kiss of death for a single, but a fitting endorsement for the Pistols and their anti-establishment rant. Despite the block, it reached number one on many other charts including the NME chart. It also reached No. 2 on the UK singles chart (The top spot was occupied by Rod Stewart’s “I Don’t Want To Talk About It”).
Originally titled “No Future,” the song was banned for containing lyrics comparing the UK to “a fascist regime” and saying the Queen is “not a human being.” However, lead singer John Lydon would later clarify: “You don’t write ‘God Save the Queen’ because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them, and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.”
In a recent editorial for the UK Times, Lydon also said he doesn’t have any “animosity” toward the royal family and even wrote “God bless the Queen. She’s put up with a lot.”
He also commented on his relationship to the concept of anarchy, saying, “Anarchy is a terrible idea. Let’s get that clear. I’m not an anarchist… And I’m amazed that there are websites out there – .org anarchist sites – funded fully by the corporate hand and yet ranting on about being outside the shitstorm. It’s preposterous.”
To commemorate the reissue and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the band also released a collectible coin and NFT displaying a Union Jack design on one side and the Queen (lip piercings and all) on the other.