The majority of Britons believe the BBC are wrong to remove the lyrics from Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory at the Last Night of the Proms, according to a poll.
The survey shows more than half of people oppose the move, which comes amid claims that people are offended by the lyrics of the much-loved anthems – because they are ‘racist’.
As it stands, the patriotic songs will be played by an orchestra only on September 12, supposedly because the lack of an audience will diminish their impact.
God Save the Queen and Jerusalem will still be played in full at the event, led by Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska, 35, which will take place without an audience and with limited performers.
Now YouGov research for The Times shows 55 per cent of people surveyed oppose the move to cut the lyrics from the two songs, compared to 16 per cent who back the decision.
Five per cent of people polled believe the songs should not be performed at all at the Last Night of the Proms.
In the same poll, YouGov, who surveyed 1,646 adults this week, found the BBC was still perceived positively, but not by much.
The poll showed 48 per cent of people surveyed viewed the broadcaster favourable, in contrast to the 44 per cent who did not.
However, just a quarter of people surveyed said they believed the BBC should stay in its current form, while around a third said it should be funded by advertising.
A BBC spokesman told the Times: ‘We are very lucky to have a Proms at all this year and that is down to the artists that have made it possible.’
The new poll comes after Dame Vera Lynn’s daughter yesterday said her mother would still be signing Land of Hope and Glory if she was alive and branded the BBC’s decision as ‘daft’.
Virginia Lewis-Jones said it was ‘wonderful’ that a rendition of the track by the forces’ sweetheart topped the charts after the race row about its meaning.
A social media drive has been launched for the recording by Dame Vera – who died in June aged 103 – to be played during the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms.
Mrs Lewis-Jones, 74, claimed the song is against slavery and her mother would be proud of her for speaking out. She said: ‘I feel that I can see my mother now saying “You tell ’em girl”.
‘She would feel the same thing and if she were here now she would be singing it.’
The 1902 lyrics of Land of Hope and Glory are associated with Cecil Rhodes – the British imperialist whose statue is being removed from an Oxford college.
Mrs Lewis-Jones said that the song was particularly meaningful to her mother, who sang it on VE Day in 1945.
When asked about the BBC’s decision, she said: ‘It is daft and I can’t understand it. You try to stop 12,000 people in the Royal Albert Hall plus all those outside from not singing it. How are you going to do that? Especially if mummy’s record has gone to number one.
‘What it could do is put a lot of people’s backs up and defeat the object of whatever they were trying to do.’
The decision to use instrumental versions of the patriotic anthems for the summer festival has drawn widespread anger – with staff at the corporation also venting their frustration at bosses’ apparent submission to ‘woke’ activists who find the anthems offensive.
One senior insider said: ‘This is another example of the BBC walking into a completely unnecessary and absurd row about culture.
‘It makes a lot of us despair when this kind of thing happens again and again. There’s lots of things you can say about both of the songs and they are not up to the minute. But that’s the case with 99 per cent of our culture one way or the other.’
And ex-BBC chairman Michael Grade launched a blistering attack on the corporation, calling the decision ‘idiotic’ and a ‘ghastly mistake’ by bosses who have ‘lost touch’ with the British public.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week said opposed the BBC’s decision.
He said: ‘I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history.’
The compromise was drawn up after incoming director general Tim Davie – who takes over on 1 September – after he intervened to insist both Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory were performed in some form.
BBC bosses had been considering removing both completely following criticism by woke left-wing activists claiming the lyrics about Britain ‘never being enslaved’ were ‘racist’ .
But former Tory council candidate Mr Davie intervened and is thought to want to reset the BBC’s relationship with No 10 when he takes over next week.
The BBC has maintained the decision was not prompted by perceptions of racism and that it was actually due to Covid-19 restrictions, with fewer performers allowed on stage, making it harder to perform the song with a traditional chorus.
A BBC spokesperson said the songs will be sung next year.
The spokesperson added: ‘We obviously share the disappointment of everyone that the Proms will have to be different but believe this is the best solution in the circumstances and look forward to their traditional return next year.’