Her Majesty The Queen

As pipers we will add to the tide of grief, mourning, and gratitude that has followed the death of HM The Queen.

For every day of her domestic life she rose to the sound of our national instrument. She appointed thirteen different Sovereign’s Pipers during her 70-year reign. They attest to her knowledge of the tunes, and woe betide those guilty of lazy repeats.

By The Editor

In her support for piping, Queen Elizabeth II continued a royal tradition dating back to Queen Victoria, a great lover of all things Scottish, who appointed Angus MacKay first Sovereign’s Piper in 1843.

The consequences of that established tradition have not been merely ceremonial; they have had a profound effect on our art. Witness the decision by King George V, the Queen’s grandfather, to send RU Brown and RB Nicol, his gamekeepers, for lessons to John MacDonald, Inverness, thus securing for posterity a travelling stream of musical heritage dating back to the MacCrimmons. ‘Why send both?’, an equerry asked. ‘One can forget; two won’t,’ replied the wise old king.

For 70 years Her Majesty was Patron of the Piobaireachd Society, and, as its President, I have written the following: ‘It is with sadness that the Society learnt today of the passing of our Patron, HM The Queen. She has been a stalwart supporter of our instrument and music since her accession in 1952, and our Patron since that date following death of her father, King George VI. Her love of bagpipe music was well known and her support for ceòl mòr through her patronage of the Piobaireachd Society has done untold good for Scotland’s classical pipe music.’


Angus MacColl plays P/M Donald MacLeod’s piobaireachd ‘Queen Elizabeth II’s Salute’….


How can we underestimate the ‘Royal’ assignation given to the then Scottish Pipe Band Association to mark its Golden Jubilee in 1980? Did it not lift the world of pipe bands to another level? – not for us you understand, but for the unknowing public and the world at large. We should appreciate that these titles are not loosely given. They are pored over, examined from every angle and after all of that The Queen’s pen is raised to sign the historic document, the SPBA would hereafter be known as the RSPBA. A true credit to the Association, a credit earned by its founders, members and officials.

Many of our leading lights have had the good fortune to have their efforts recognised with the award of an MBE and other such honours. Each one elevated our music, gave it respect, made people notice the noble instrument.

An unforgettable moment for P/M Richard Parkes, Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band as he receives his MBE from HM The Queen

Thanks to the Queen, great occasions of state involving the Royal Family have always had the pipes to the fore. Only recently we watched as P/M Grant did his duty so well at the funeral of Prince Philip. A regimental Pipe & Drums is a fixture at the Cenotaph each year when the Sovereign presides over the national day of mourning for our war dead.

And the future? Continuity, stability are the watchwords of the monarchy. The new king has already shown a keen interest in piping. He came to the bench last year at the small recovery Braemar Games and shook the hands of the judges. He started the pipes at Gordonstoun but was a complete duffer at it, he told me. Furthermore he has for many years given his name as Patron of the PIping Centre in Glasgow.

I am sure our instrument, its music, its worth, is not lost on King Charles III. I feel we can have confidence the post of Sovereign’s Piper will continue along with the royal patronage which means so much to us all.

For now we add to the tide of grief, mourning, and gratitude that has followed the death of HM The Queen.


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5 thoughts on “Her Majesty The Queen

  1. From us all at South West of Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy, a very big thank you Rab for a brilliant tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth. As a fledgling organisation in the nation wide fraternity of pipers and drummers, we are grateful for this opportunity to add our voice to your tribute. Like you, and so many others, we owe a debt of gratitude for her devotion to our country and to our national musical heritage and take solace in the sure and certain knowledge that her son and heir, King Charles III, will maintain this affection.

  2. Thanks Bob for a wonderful considered piece. Wonderful to hear our national instrument in St. Paul’s Cathedral for prayers and reflection.The Flowers of the Forest given poetic musical licence.

    .. Flowers of the Forest given poetic licence though me thinks.I

  3. Well said Robert, as PS member I too grieve the loss of our patron HM Queen Elizabeth such a stalwart of piping. There is an old saying in the US military that commanding officers tell loved ones who lost their loved ones ” they died in the company of people who loved them.” Such is the legacy of Queen Elizabeth, she died in the arms of the country that loved her at Balmoral in Scotland.

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