Why You Won't See King Charles Singing The British National Anthem

There was a lot to take in during the historic coronation of Britain's new monarch, King Charles III. Between the lavish parades and a healthy dose of family drama, royal watchers also witnessed a beautiful sense of national pride fitting for such a grand occasion. The country's flags were raised high by all in attendance and there was plenty of singing too. And nothing conveys a sense of adoration for one's country as endearingly as the iconic British national anthem. 

During the coronation, everyone joined together to sing along — all except for one very important person. Charles was reportedly getting a little impatient during the two-hour ceremony; there was even a lip reader claiming the king complained to Queen Camilla about the Prince and Princess of Wales's tardiness. Some people may have been wondering if that perceived attitude is why the monarch decided to clam up when it was time to sing the national anthem. 

But it wasn't a lack of enthusiasm that had Charles' lips sealed while everyone else sang their hearts out. According to E! News, the reason the king didn't sing along with his guests is simply because "God Save the King" is meant to be sung to him. 

It's tradition for the monarch not to sing the anthem

King Charles III may not have sung along to the national anthem at his coronation, but a shortage of national pride isn't the cause of his silence. Britain's new ruler kept quiet during the song because it is a longstanding tradition for the anthem to be sung to the monarch rather than by them. According to the royal family's official website, the song was originally composed in 1745 to celebrate Prince Charles Edward Stuart's war victories. 

This later became "the custom of greeting monarchs," and is sung whenever they make an appearance at a public event. While the singing takes place, the monarch must remain silent. It's worth noting, too, that the anthem is labeled as a "greeting" when sung with a monarch in attendance, hence the reason why Charles didn't join in with everyone else at his coronation. 

In fact, it was the crowd's way of showing their appreciation for and solidarity with their new leader and, as tradition dictates, Charles quietly and respectfully listened on.

The lyrics changed following Queen Elizabeth's death

In the above clip, of the late Queen Elizabeth II's 85th birthday celebration, you'll notice certain similarities between how she responded to the national anthem and how her son behaved at his coronation. Westminster Abbey was packed full of guests solemnly singing "God Save the Queen" to the royal, but as the camera pans closer, it's clear that Her Majesty isn't singing along. You'll also notice that the lyrics refer to a "queen" and not a "king," as was heard at the coronation. 

The song is officially changed depending on whether there is a king or a queen on the throne. The most recent change in lyrics began at the end of Queen Elizabeth's closed-casket funeral when Charles took over the throne, according to The Guardian. In Westminster Abbey once again, the funeral attendees sang a new version of the anthem, "God Save the King." 

This newest version is, therefore, sung in honor of King Charles III. Sticking to tradition even on a tragic day, the new king remained silent. However, his wife, Queen Camilla, did sing along next to him.