In recognition of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, the Sex Pistols – or, at least, their social media accounts – announced the reissue of the band’s second single, “God Save the Queen.” The re-release featured two limited edition recreations of the song’s original vinyl.
Named after the British national anthem, the track is largely seen as the band’s way of sharing their negative views of the British monarchy, as they said the Queen was “not a human being” and compared the United Kingdom to “a facist regime.” In an interview, lead vocalist John Lydon shared the meaning behind the single.
“You don’t write ‘God Save the Queen’ because you hate the English race,” he said. “You write a song like that because you love them; and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.”
“God Save the Queen” received widespread backlash upon its release. A number of retailers refused to stock the vinyl, while commercial radio stations banned it from the air. While it reached No. 2 on the official UK Singles Chart, many opted to blank out the single’s title.
The band also faced danger from the public following its release, and were even arrested following a performance along the River Thames.
The re-release recreated the original vinyl pressed by A&M and Virgin. Almost all of A&M’s original copies of the single were destroyed after the label dropped the Sex Pistols due to poor behavior.
The new A&M pressing was limited to 1,977 copies, with an early version of “No Feelings” as the b-side. It featured the generic company sleeve and silver/platinum vinyl. The Virgin re-release was limited to 4,000 copies and features artwork by Jamie Reid. Its b-side is “Did You No Wrong.”
It’s unclear how much involvement the band had in the re-release of “God Save the Queen.” In April 2022, Lydon shared his dismay over the upcoming Universal release of a Sex Pistols compilation, calling it “substandard compared to previous Universal releases.”