Half of young people don’t know the national anthem

June 05, 2014, 3:57 PM GMT+0

43% of 18-24 year old Britons don’t know the first verse of the British national anthem and a further 13% are unsure if they do – while 28% have never sung it in their lives

England football manager Roy Hodgeson has told his players that all of them must sing the national anthem at this year’s World Cup in Brazil. Noting the patriotism of other teams, he said: "You very rarely play against opponents and they haven't got their hands on their hearts and singing their anthem as loud as they can… We made the decision very early on to do what every other team does".

While most people support the idea (64%), a new YouGov survey asks people whether they could actually do it themselves.

Overall, 68% say they know the first verse of the British national anthem off by heart while 26% do not and 5% are unsure. Younger British people, however, are considerably less patriotic when it comes to God Save the Queen. While 89% of over-60s could recite the first verse, only 44% of 18-24s could – as many as could not (43%). Additionally, 13% of the younger generation are unsure if they know the first verse of the anthem while only 1% of 60 pluses don’t know.

The more conservative parties also seem to have better patriotic credentials, with 82% of Conservative Party voters and 85% of UKIP voters knowing the first verse. By contrast, 66% of Labour and Liberal Democrat voters could recite it.

Asked when the last time they sung the national anthem was, 86% of the oldest generation choose some point between ‘in the last month’ and ‘more than a few years ago’, while only 4% choose ‘never’. But for the youngest generation, only 52% say they have sung God Save the Queen at some point in their lives while over a quarter (28%) say they never have.

Wayne Rooney didn’t sing the national anthem at the beginning of his football career, and Gary Neville, now an England coach, refused to join in for all 85 England appearances. Roy Hodgeson said: “We are proud to be England players, and in my case, England manager, so when the National Anthem comes up it’s an obvious one for me that we sing it. We’re great until the second verse comes along because we don’t really know that”.

See the full poll results