UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn opted to stand in silence during the singing of the national anthem at a service to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain on Tuesday. The new Labour leader, who believes in the abolition of the monarchy, has faced criticism for not joining in.
Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames - the grandson of Winston Churchill - said the Labour leader had been very rude and disrespectful to the Queen.
A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said he had stood in respectful silence. He said: Jeremy attended today's event to show respect for those who fought in conflicts for Britain.
As he said in the words issued this morning, the heroism of the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain is something to which we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude.
Mr Corbyn's decision attracted a lot of comment on social media, and Sir Nicholas was among a number of Tory MPs to criticise him, saying it had been very disrespectful to the Battle of Britain pilots who gave their all.
I think he needs to make his mind up whether he is a grown-up or not, he said.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who was at the service, said Mr Corbyn was a hardcore republican to his fingertips, something that very few Labour voters would support.
Labour Peer Admiral Lord West of Spithead said: Singing the national anthem is a sign of loyalty to the United Kingdom and British people. I cannot believe that the people of our great nation could contemplate a prime minister who lacks that loyalty.
A member of Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet, Owen Smith, said he would have advised Mr Corbyn to sing the national anthem irrespective of his views about the monarchy.
The shadow work and pensions secretary told BBC Two's Newsnight the matter had been blown out of all proportion and is a low order issue compared to the refugee crisis and the debate over the future of the welfare state.
And Lord Falconer, shadow justice secretary, said: I'm absolutely sure that Jeremy Corbyn is a genuine patriot.
Tuesday's service at St Paul's Cathedral was Mr Corbyn's first official ceremonial engagement since becoming Labour leader. During the event, he sat next to senior members of the RAF, including ACM Sir Andrew Pulford, and other politicians, including the Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
The service focused on honouring the many who supported the Battle of Britain pilots described by Winston Churchill as the few.
Ahead of the event, Mr Corbyn highlighted the fact that his mother had served as an air raid warden and his father in the Home Guard. He said: Like that whole generation, they showed tremendous courage and determination to defeat fascism.
The heroism of the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain is something to which we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude.
After the service, he said it had made him think of his mother and the ARP [air raid precautions] medal she was given.
Downing Street said Mr Cameron - who has weekly audiences with the Queen - attached importance to the national anthem and was very proud to sing it.
The prime minister's official spokeswoman said: The importance that the PM attaches to the national anthem is visible every time he is at one of these commemorative services. He is very proud and willing to join with others singing the national anthem.
Mr Corbyn is a long-standing republican but has said he will accept an invitation to become a member of the Privy Council - a historic body made up of current senior and former politicians, which advises the Queen on affairs of state.
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This guy is his own worst enemy. The Tories just need to stand back and let him do all the work of losing the next election.Sep 16th, 2015 - 10:02 am 0
He wants to lead Her Majesty's Government? Rude and a hypocrite. One can be a pacifist and republican in private but not when representing a Party at an official function. If he aspires to be Prime Minister then he will be representing our country. He needs to learn some respect.Sep 16th, 2015 - 10:32 am 0
I know he is being lambasted and mocked in the press but he does not help himself when he acts like the spoilt little rich kid rebel who won't grow up.
@1 He misreads the majority of the British electorate who adore the Royal family and hold the armed forces in great esteem, especially those that have given their lives for our freedom. If he really wants to push a more socialist agenda he is going about it in the wrong way. But then again, I think no one is more surprised by his election than him.
Every nation has a head of Sate - if you disagree with the way that person is selected - then that is fair enough in democracy, but you have to learn to grow up into an adult and accept that system until you can get a majority who agree with you to change it. - And to insult and show such disrespect to your head of State in public is such a way is just plain Petulant-Sulky-Childlike.Sep 16th, 2015 - 10:34 am 0
And a far bigger DIRECT insult to those surviving veterans and the families of all those who did not survive.
Day one and Jeremy C is already well down the path of auto-destruct