Made in France: the only recording of God Save the King to be had
If you want to play a recording of the UK’s revamped national anthem then you will probably have to rely on an unlikely source: a French opera singer.
The accession of Charles III has made recordings of God Save the Queen redundant, with the official lyrics updated to reflect the fact that a man is on the throne and pay tribute to a “gracious King”.
Yet because Queen Elizabeth II became monarch in 1952 there has been little or no reason for anyone to release a version of God Save the King for the last 70 years. A handful of older recordings were made, but they used more basic technology with old-style gramophone records in mind.
The only high-quality version of the current British national anthem easily available on streaming services such as Spotify is by Arnaud Kientz, 51, an opera singer and teacher from Paris.
He said he made his version in 2017 while recording other anthems. “I’m an opera singer and I was asked to record La Marseillaise,” he said. “Maybe the only anthems more famous in the world are God Save the Queen and the American one. The year after they asked me to record God Save the Queen – and God Save the King.”
Kientz said there was no particular plan to have a version ready for Charles’s accession. “We weren’t thinking at all about the Queen’s death and we are very sorry about that, all the world is,” he said. “The woman was so important in our life.”
Kientz’s recording of God Save the King had been largely ignored, but it has recently been played hundreds of thousands of times as people look for a version with the correct words. Many public events simply play the unchanged instrumental version, but for now it is a Frenchman who has the market for the lyrical version of the British national anthem to himself.
Some record labels have started changing the titles of old instrumental recordings of God Save the Queen to push themselves up search results on streaming services, and other recordings are likely to be issued soon. The Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins has already made one for the BBC, but it is not commercially available. .
For now it is much easier to find a recording of Liechtenstein’s national anthem Oben Am Jungen Rhein – High Above the Young Rhine – an ode to the microstate’s Alpine location that shares the same melody as its British equivalent.
Kientz, who has travelled across the UK, said he did not expect his recording of God Save the King to provide much of an income: “I really love this anthem because it’s very vocal, you have many things to do. I didn’t do it for the money, I did it for the pleasure,” he said.