Roughly 45 years after Rotten penned the words “God save the Queen / the fascist regime” and “God save the Queen / she ain’t no human being,” Lydon wrote following the Queen’s death, “Rest in Peace Queen Elizabeth II. Send her victorious.” (“Send her victorious” is a line from the actual “God Save the Queen” anthem.)
The short statement was accompanied by a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, the same image defiled on the cover of the Sex Pistols’ 1977 single for “God Save the Queen.”
Despite the pointed words at the monarchy and calls for British anarchy in the Sex Pistols’ punk classics, Lydon himself has softened his opinion of the Royal Family in the ensuing decades, as the singer’s own political leanings have trended conservative; Lydon twice voted for Donald Trump — the “political Sex Pistol,” he called him — and has been photographed in recent years in MAGA gear.
In June of this year, to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Lydon penned an op-ed where he stated, unironically, “God save the Queen.”
“She’s put up with a lot,” Lydon wrote. “I’ve got no animosity against any one of the royal family. Never did. It’s the institution of it that bothers me and the assumption that I’m to pay for that. There’s where I draw the line. It’s like, ‘No, you’re not getting ski holidays on my tax.’”
Lydon also reflected on the Sex Pistols’ anthem “Anarchy in the U.K.,” “Anarchy is a terrible idea. Let’s get that clear. I’m not an anarchist. And I’m amazed that there are websites out there – .org anarchist sites – funded fully by the corporate hand and yet ranting on about being outside the shitstorm. It’s preposterous.”
The official Sex Pistols Twitter account has not yet commented on the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Lydon joins hundreds of artists from both sides of the Atlantic who have offered tributes to the Queen following her death at the age of 96, with Elton John, Harry Styles, Kanye West and Eddie Vedder just a handful of the musicians who have paid their respects.