“God Save the Queen” (alternatively “God Save the King”) is an anthem used in a number of Commonwealth realms and British Crown Dependencies. It is the sole national anthem of the United Kingdom and some of its territories; one of the two national anthems of New Zealand (since 1977) and those of Britain’s territories that have their own additional local anthem; and the royal anthem of Australia (since 1984), Canada (since 1980), Jamaica, and Tuvalu, as well as Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. In countries not previously part of the British Empire, the tune of “God Save the Queen” has also been used as the basis for different patriotic songs, though still generally connected with royal ceremony.
The authorship of the song is unknown, and beyond its first verse, which is consistent, it has many historic and extant versions: Since its first publication, different verses have been added and taken away and, even today, different publications include various selections of verses in various orders. In general only one, or sometimes two verses are sung, but on rare occasions three.
The sovereign and his or her consort are saluted with the entire anthem, while other members of the royal family who are entitled to royal salute (such as the Prince of Wales) receive just the first six bars. The first six bars also form all or part of the Vice Regal Salute in some Commonwealth realms outside the UK (e.g., in Canada, governors general and lieutenant governors are at official events saluted with the first six bars of “God Save the Queen” followed by the first four and last four bars of “O Canada”), as well as the salute given to governors of British overseas territories.
The words of the song, like its title, are adapted to the gender of monarch, with “King” replacing “Queen”, “he” replacing “she”, and so forth, when a king reigns.
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