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God Save the Queen - When Punk Rocked Jubilee Britain

57 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 30 January 2013

The high-water mark of punk was at the height of a summer of royal love. One million people, bedecked with Union Jacks, lined London's streets to watch the Royal Family's procession. Many millions more attended street parties to celebrate the Queen's 25th anniversary on the throne.

Meanwhile, a more irreverent (but subsequently more infamous) party had been planned. A boat laden with The Sex Pistols, their Svengali manager Malcolm McLaren, journalists and various friends and hangers-on sailed by The Houses Of Parliament while The Pistols blasted out Anarchy In The UK.

Shortly thereafter, the boat was boarded by police and "persuaded" to return to shore. Tensions ran high, people were arrested. Some were beaten by police. And it wasn't just the establishment that was offended. Lydon was later stabbed by an irate Londoner. TVs were kicked in by fuming fathers. Tabloids raged and protests were staged.

Punk rocked Britain and exposed the fissures and divisions in late 70s Britain. Despite the celebration of our monarchy, the country was on an economic downturn. Jobs were hard to come by, particularly for young people. Life was hard and dull.

It could be argued that punk simply held up a mirror to an ugly society. It certainly allied itself with the outsiders and disenfranchised youth of all kinds. But many of those who were galvanized by punk went onto great things: Adam Ant, Siouxsie Sioux, Morrissey, Billy Idol, Vivienne Westwood and Tony Parsons among many others.

Even the hippie Richard Branson (the third person to sign the Pistols) went on to launch a corporate empire that now has fingers in everything including the burgeoning space travel tourism.

We want to hear from those of you who embraced punk and those who were threatened by it. Was your life affirmed and forever changed by punk... or did you detest it?

Music Played

15 items
  • Share your comments and stories

    Your contributions will play a key part in this episode, take a look at the questions below and send us your thoughts:

    • Did punk music shock you… or did it change your life?
    • What do you remember of the Queen’s Jubilee in 1977?
    • Did you happen to see the Sex Pistols on TV with Bill Grundy?
    • Did you spike your hair up and put safety pins through your clothes or your nose?

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Coming up in the Series

The People's Songs

Read about every upcoming episode we have planned for the series in 2013.

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