Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg celebrated the news by playing a snatch of Rule Britannia on his mobile phone in the chamber of the House of Commons – but others were much less impressed. Author Derek McMillan tweeted: “The BBC had backed down on the issue of jingoistic claptrap.
“Patriotism is the first second third and last refuge of a scoundrel. Own goal BBC.”
Janet Martin added: “They should have stuck to their guns.”
Another user said: “Pathetic climbdown. At least I won’t have to listen.”
Meanwhile a fourth said: “The lurch to the right is complete. Time to change the channel…”
The broadcaster had previously said the pieces would feature without lyrics, following controversy over their perceived historical links with colonialism and slavery.
However, both will now be performed by a select group of vocalists.
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In a speech in Parliament at the time, he said: “I do think this country is going through an orgy of national embarrassment about some of the things that other people around the world love most about us.
“People love our traditions and our history with all its imperfections. It’s crazy for us to go around trying to censor it.
“It’s absolutely absurd and I think we should speak out loud and proud for the UK and our history.”
A spokesman for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was the “right decision” but that “enjoying patriotic songs does not and should not be a barrier to examining our past and learning lessons from it”.
A spokesman for the BBC Proms said: “The pandemic means a different Proms this year and one of the consequences, under COVID-19 restrictions, is we are not able to bring together massed voices.
“For that reason, we took the artistic decision not to sing Rule, Britannia and Land Of Hope And Glory in the Hall.
“We have been looking hard at what else might be possible and we have a solution.
“Both pieces will now include a select group of BBC singers. This means the words will be sung in the Hall, and as we have always made clear, audiences will be free to sing along at home.
“While it can’t be a full choir, and we are unable to have audiences in the Hall, we are doing everything possible to make it special and want a Last Night truly to remember.
“We hope everyone will welcome this solution. We think the night itself will be a very special moment for the country – and one that is much needed after a difficult period for everyone.
“It will not be a usual Last Night, but it will be a night not just to look forward to, but to remember.”