August 15, 2022

How do you get an audience with the Queen? Just ask! Ottawa’s Sons of Scotland heading to Balmoral for Platinum Jubilee performance

The Sons of Scotland Pipe Band meets with Queen Elizabeth II at a previous performance at Balmoral.

Since 2005, the Grade 4 Sons of Scotland Pipe Band of Ottawa have performed regularly for Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral, the royal family’s summer estate in Deeside in the northeast of Scotland.

And the band will play at Balmoral for the fifth time on Wednesday, August 17th, in honour of the Platinum Jubilee celebration of Elizabeth II’s seventieth anniversary of her reign.

So, how did this pipe band get the regular honour of playing for Her Majesty for most of the last two decades?

As it turns out, they simply made a request.

It was because I wrote and asked!” said Pipe-Major Bethany Bisaillion. “I asked for this opportunity last fall, seeing as it was the Jubilee year, and we had a big two-day celebration here in Ottawa to mark the occasion.”

“It was because I wrote and asked! I asked for this opportunity last fall, seeing as it was the Jubilee year, and we had a big two-day celebration here in Ottawa to mark the occasion.” – Bethany Bisaillion

Earlier this year, the band put together a celebration event in Ottawa that was attended by enthusiasts of the band and the monarchy, and not a few dignitaries from in and around Canada’s capitol city. The event included a “Corgi Walk” through Ottawa’s Mall near Parliament Hill, where owners of the Queen’s favourite breed of dog came out in droves with their pet canines.

The letter and invitation from Queen Elizabeth II’s Lady-in-Waiting.

“I received a lovely letter of thanks from Her Majesty’s office thanking us for hosting the event, and I sent Her Majesty photos of the celebrations, and 70 cards of congratulations from attendees at our event.”

Queen Elizabeth II reciprocated with an invitation to have a private performance with her at Balmoral.

“She was quite touched, as are we, for this wonderful opportunity,” Bisaillion added.

Bethany Bisaillion greets one of the participants in the ‘Corgi Walk’ organized by the band in Ottawa in April 2022.

The band was also able to tie in competing in Grade 4B at the World Pipe Band Championships on August 13th. They didn’t qualify for the final but, no bother, they’re now heading north for their special audience.

“Once we received word of this amazing opportunity, we reached out to partners all over the world to join us, and we have players from five countries joining us – Canada, Mexico, the United States, Australia, and Scotland – and a great number of players from the Eagle Pipers Society in Edinburgh,” she said.

The Eagle Pipers Society put out a call to their members to participate, and the organization is putting on a coach to make the bus journey north.

Bisaillion has also wrote the music and words for “Strength and Stay,” a piece to honour the Queen’s marriage to Prince Phillip, who died in April of this year at the age of 99. She will perform the piece with singer Michaela Foster Marsh during the visit to Balmoral.

If you’re wondering how Bethany Bisaillion and the Sons of Scotland formed such a good relationship with Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family, take the cue from her: Just ask.




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