This time whoever I was struck by how the event has changed. Yes we sang all the old patriotic favourites, yes there were many Union Flags being waved in the hall & at the “Proms in the Park” concerts around the country but the conductor was American, we had a soloist from Germany (sing “Rule Brittania”!) and another from Australia. The flags being waved included the Dutch, Japanese the EU & the UN (I am sure I missed some others).
For me, this is the kind of patriotism I can support, celebrating our past and enjoying our heritage but also being open and inclusive of others, not letting our natural pride in the UK get in the way of welcoming others to join us.
Never let out patriotism become so engulfing as to become exclusive and tip over into Nationalism. Just as we are proud of some of our shared history, we must never forget the UK has also been guilty of many abuses and dark deeds, even in the not too distant past. Those from other countries can also be patriotic for their homeland but still welcoming to, and be welcomed by, us
So yes, enjoy the “Last Night” and get behind out sporting starts (many of whom also come from an increasingly diverse background) but also welcome others who are willing to join us in friendship. Our patriotism should not be exclusive of others but inviting others to share our pride and be willing to share theirs.
And next weekend, I will be cheering on the England team, hoping the Irish, Scots & Welsh do well and looking forward to a festival of sport in the Rugby World Cup and hoping for great matches whoever is playing!