Apparently New Zealanders are more naturally curious about things than Americans are — they also noticed the puzzling absence of God in The Queen on airline flights, and actually started asking around about it. (Thanks to Richard Easther for pointing this out.) And they found an answer!
The story is that the version that was shown on Air New Zealand, and presumably also on United, was actually meant for Middle Eastern airlines. Flight Productions, the company that distributed the bowlderized version, suggested that some airline had requested that “God” be bleeped out. This raises another question, of course: why? There isn’t any traditional prescription against saying “God” that anyone could think of.
Hassan Hosseini, an Iranian community spokesman in Auckland, said he could not see why it would have been a problem with Muslims, as Allah was God.
“We believe in God, we would not be offended. We use the word God.”
And then, of course, if you’re going to start bleeping out words, there are better choices.
The Anglican Dean of Auckland, Richard Randerson, said he had seen The Queen at the cinema and could not recall much use of the word God.
“There were plenty of other words. I think the Queen said ‘bugger’ when her four-wheel-drive vehicle got stuck in a Highland creek.”
This would be the appropriate thread in which to debate whether the Queen was referring to the commonplace, literal, interventionist “bugger,” or whether she had in mind a more sophisticated, ineffable notion of “bugger.”
Update: There’s now an alternative explanation (thanks to several people for pointing it out). CNN claims it’s just an overzealous editor. One way or another, it’s not standard operating procedure, apparently.