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Prince Harry: This very symbolic ban which he is willing to support


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Very involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, Prince Harry supports the decision of the English Rugby Federation to ban the song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” during matches. A resolution motivated by the origins of the song.

Rugby fans, and more specifically the England team, will recognise the song. The verse “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, which was taken up again and again during the matches of the XV de la Rose, could however be banned. It is in any case the fight led by Prince Harry, who is a great fan of the oval ball sport.

The husband of Meghan Markle, recently involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, supports the decision of the English Rugby Union (RFU) to ban singing at rugby matches. “The Duke supports the comments the RFU made this week regarding the review and will follow the RFU’s decision on the issue,” commented a representative of Prince Harry to The Times.

But why such a decision? The origin of the song is indeed highly questionable, as it is originally an ode to the liberation of slaves. The “chariot”, referring as much to a wagon as to a barge to enable the slave to free himself from his condition. The anthem, written shortly before 1862 by a black slave named Wallace Willis, has several stanzas, but only the first two are used in the England team’s matches since 19 March 1988.

A song of victory

That day, the English witnessed a miracle after a difficult season (the team lost 15 of its 23 games in what was then called the V Nations tournament). The match against the Irish looked to be going badly, but the XV de la Rose recovered, thanks in particular to Chris Oti, the first black player, who ensured victory for his team.

It was during the match that the “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” began to resound in the stadium. At the origin of the song? A group of students from the Douai Benedictine School in Upper Woolhampton, moved by the show.

The RFU, who spoke out on the issue, said, “The song Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (…) is (today) sung by a lot of people who don’t know its origins or its sensibilities”. He went on to say, “We’re looking at its historical context and our role in educating fans to make informed decisions.” A symbolic resolution, largely dictated by the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd on May 25th.

Photo credits: EXPRESS TRADE UNION / BESTIMAGE

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