Prominent Brexiteers are outraged after seeing thousands of EU flags waving during a rendition of “Rule, Britannia!” at a televised concert in London.
Last Night of the Proms — the BBC’s annual celebration of classical music — became an ideological battleground for Leave and Remain supporters when it kicked off on on Saturday evening after people started waving the blue-and-yellow flags of the EU, which appeared to outnumber Union Jacks in the crowd.
Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor even called for an investigation to get to the bottom of how the “disgraceful and misguided BBC” let such an “utterly vulgar and wrong” spectacle happen.
“Rule Britannia, not Rule EU!” Proctor said in on social media, adding a Union Jack to his post.
Nile Gardiner, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, said on social media that it was “ironic to see some of the audience at The Last Night of the Proms waving EU flags while singing Rule Britannia.”
“Rule Britannia represents freedom, sovereignty, and self-determination, all absent in the European Union,” Gardiner said, adding: “Thank God for Brexit.”
EU flags became more popular at the annual Last Night of the Proms concert after the U.K. voted to leave the EU in June 2016, as campaigners saw the typically patriotic event as an opportunity to protest the Brexit referendum.
Pro-EU campaign group Thank EU for the Music took credit for Saturday night’s EU flag-waving.
“Tens of thousands of music lovers have taken our free European flags into the Royal Albert Hall for each Last Night of the Proms in solidarity with musicians who feel (like countless others) the destructive impact of Britain’s recent isolation from Europe,” the group said in an open letter to BBC Director General Tim Davie posted on Facebook on Friday. The group also advertised the free flags on X ahead of the concert.
“I’m sure it cannot have escaped your attention that the artistic endeavors on stage now happen despite, not because of, the limitations that Britain’s departure from the European Union have imposed on the creative industries,” the open letter to Davie said.