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Videos: Queen Elizabeth broke 600-year tradition to play US anthem after 9/11

The bands of the Household Division playing during the trooping of the color, celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday on April 21, 2007. (Photo by Jon, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
September 09, 2022

Queen Elizabeth II broke with 600 years of British royal tradition by having the royal band play the “Star Spangled Banner” during a changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Sept. 12, 2001.

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As the U.S. mourned the loss of thousands of lives after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that took nearly 3,000 American lives, Queen Elizabeth ordered the Bands of the Household Division to play the American national anthem in a special tribute. The Daily Express reported 5,000 people, including many Americans, gathered outside Buckingham Palace on the day after the attack to mourn together.

The moment of mourning and solidarity with the U.S. broke with 600 years of tradition for the change of the guard ceremony. According to We Are The Mighty, until Sept. 12, 2001, the Bands of the Household Division had always played a mix of traditional British songs and popular music of the day while the national anthems of other countries were reserved for visits by foreign dignitaries.

After the royal military band played the Star-Spangled Banner, the palace held a two-minute silence. Prince Andrew then led the troops in a formal salute.

After playing the “Star Spangled Banner” the band also played a selection of somber American music including John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen,” which is from the final credits of the 1998 film “Saving Private Ryan.”

Queen Elizabeth once again honored the U.S. last year on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, having the royal band again play the “Star Spangled Banner” during a ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Clips of Queen Elizabeth’s tributes to the U.S. went viral on Thursday afternoon and Friday after she passed away at 96 years old. Queen Elizabeth’s death comes just three days before the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.