John Lydon on Sex Pistol's God Save The Queen: "Everyone presumes that I'm against the royal family...I'm actually really, really proud of the Queen"

John Lydon of Sex Pistols
(Image credit: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

John Lydon, formerly known as Johnny Rotten, lead singer of the Sex Pistols, has returned to kiss goodbye to his punk rock credibility once more with some unexpectedly kind words for the royal family.

While the question of whether the British royal family should continue to reign is an issue that polarises much of the nation, you might expect that the man who co-wrote the anti-establishment, Queen-bashing punk anthem God Save The Queen would side with those firmly against the monarchy. But then Lydon is a famously contrary character.

Released in 1977, during Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee, God Save The Queen, the Pistols' second single, was undeniably controversial at the time, and was banned from the BBC, with frontman Rotten describing the monarchy as a "fascist regime", and the Queen as "no human being". The single eventually peaked at number 2 in the UK charts, though it has long been believed that the charts were 'fixed' that week to stop the Pistols' anthem reaching number 1.

Fast forward several decades, and we're in the run up of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, and Mr Lydon no longer seems to harbour the same level of disdain for the royals as he did in his youth. 

During a recent chat with Piers Morgan for the broadcaster's much-hyped and poorly-watched Piers Morgan Uncensored show on Talk TV, Lydon was asked about his views on the royal family. When Morgan questions the singer about the song, Lydon clarifies, "It's anti-royalist, but it's not anti-human.

"I've got to tell the world this," he says. "Everyone presumes that I'm against the royal family as human beings, I'm not.".

Raising his hand to his brow to offer a salute, he continues, "I'm actually really, really proud of the Queen for surviving and doing so well. 

"I applaud her for that and that's a fantastic achievement. I'm not a curmudgeon about that."

Defending his views in the song, Lydon adds: "I just think that if I'm paying my tax money to support this system I should have a say so in how it's spent."

Of the royal family's future, especially in terms of the Queen's increasing age (she's 93 years old) and deteriorating health (she recently battled Covid-19), the vocalist suggests "I think it's possibly the end of the monarchy because Prince Charles is not going to be able to handle it. This is the man who plays Pink Floyd to his cabbages.

"That's a shame too, cause I do love pageantry. I'm a football fan, how could I not? I like watching royal weddings because I love watching spitfires and B-52s and the like flying over [Buckingham] Palace. I get quite emotional with all that. I love me country, I love me people and everything about it, but if there's problems in it, I think I have the right to say so."

Check out the interview below:

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.