In tribute to Queen ... China's anthem

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2012, 12:00am


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The Union Flag was waved and much talk of Queen Elizabeth was in the air - but it was the playing of the Chinese national anthem at a very British service that really got tongues wagging at St John's Cathedral yesterday.

There was a ripple of surprise among the congregation, gathered to mark the 60th anniversary of Elizabeth's accession to the throne, when the familiar tones of the March of the Volunteers rang out, while Britain's anthem, God Save The Queen, was left until later in the service.

'It's just showing respect I think, which is fine,' said Andrew Seaton, the British consul, after the service marking the Diamond Jubilee.

For others, there was surprise. One long-time worshipper at the Anglican cathedral said: 'It's the first time I've heard the Chinese national anthem in the church.'

The pews of the 163-year-old cathedral, still the only building in Hong Kong owned on a freehold, rather than a government lease, were packed with the Queen's subjects, who - despite occasional moments of republican fervour - still include the city's large Australian, New Zealand and Canadian communities.

Countries such as India, Pakistan and South Africa are members of the Commonwealth, of which the Queen is head. She is also head of the Church of England.

The thanksgiving service featured readings by Seaton and his Australian counterpart Paul Tighe, as well as hymns and prayers for the health of the 86-year-old monarch.

Around Hong Kong, Britons and plenty of others took the opportunity to celebrate the Queen's reign.

On Sunday, hundreds attended street-carnival style celebrations at the Indian Club as part of a global event called the Big Lunch, while others took part in a celebration at the Hong Kong Club last night involving members of the 'royals and loyals' - groups such as the British Chamber of Commerce, Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Commonwealth Society and Royal Overseas League.

'Hong Kong has changed in all sorts of ways in 15 years,' Seaton said. 'Clearly the formal British connection stopped 15 years ago, and that was entirely as it should be. I think what you've got is a bit of British history, legacy, business connections and so on. People move on.

'There are more Hong Kong students studying in the UK than there were 15 years ago. There's more business being done between Britain and Hong Kong. There are more British companies here ... it's a remarkably positive picture.'