Piping and drumming excellence on full display as Queen Elizabeth II laid to rest
Millions, if not billions, of people around the world watched as Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest in a five-hour ceremony in London that put on display Britain’s pageantry and poignancy at its finest.
And there was perhaps never a bigger spotlight placed on piping and drumming, exposing the globe to the excellence of the instruments.
At the request of the Queen, Pipe-Major Paul Burns of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the current Piper to the Sovereign performed the military air “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep,” at the funeral proceedings at Westminster Abbey.
Burns played near the end of the ceremony in perfect timing with the event, subtly fading into the distance, the pipe music giving way to the State Trumpeters.
Later during the procession to the Queen’s final resting place at Windsor Castle, the combined military pipes and drums of the UK and Commonwealth countries played down the Mall in London, again exposing high-quality piping and drumming to a worldwide audience. Among the tunes the massed bands played was “Chì mi na mórbheanna” (“The Mist Covered Mountains”), a classic piece in compound time, but was impressively marched to to a tricky double-time beat.
Burns later played “A Salute to the Royal Fendersmith,” composed by Jimmy Banks, as the casket was lowered.
The role of Piper to the Sovereign was started in 1843 by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert during a visit to the Scottish Highlands. They fell in love with the pipes and created the position, which has since been held by 17 pipers, including Angus MacKay, William Ross and Andrew Pitkeathly.
Robert Brown and Robert Nicol, the famous “Bobs of Balmoral,” served for many years as pipers and ghillies at the Balmoral estate in Scotland.
Since the Victorian era, the royal family have been keen supporters and patrons of piping and drumming causes, including the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, of which King Charles III, previously HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, KG, KT, GCB, is a patron. Queen Elizabeth was a long-time patron of the Piobaireachd Society.