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Who is Queen Elizabeth’s right-hand man?
As mere commoners, most of us wake up to the loud buzz of an alarm clock, but Queen Elizabeth II wakes up to the sounds of bagpipes playing. The Piper to the Sovereign has been a coveted royal household position with only 15 people who have held the title since its inception in 1843. She enjoys the melodies so much that she brings her royal bagpiper to all of her United Kingdom residences, except for Sandringham House due to the lack of accommodations. It is even said that the royal bagpiper travels with her more often than her own husband, Prince Philip! (Don’t miss the ways Queen Elizabeth II sends her staff secret messages.)
Every morning at 9:00 on the dot, you’ll find the piper below the British monarch’s bedroom window proudly blowing into his bagpipes for exactly 15 minutes. He even pipes at the dinner table! “People can hear the pipes around the estate,” a royal source from Balmoral Castle told the Daily Mail.
But you better not play the same tune twice. Although most royal pipers remain tight-lipped about their past royal duties, Gordon Webster, a Piper to the Sovereign from the 1990s, said that he had memorized about 700 tunes because the Queen didn’t like to hear the same tunes repeated in a day. (Make sure you know these “facts” about Queen Elizabeth II that just aren’t true.)
Other Piper to the Sovereign duties include escorting the Queen to the audiences she has throughout the day and coordinating the military pipers who play at state banquets.
Queen Victoria instated the royal bagpiping position when she saw that the Marquis of Breadalbane in Scotland had his own piper. In a letter to her mother she wrote, “We have heard nothing but bagpipes since we have been in the beautiful Highlands and I’ve become so fond of it that I mean to have a piper.” Soon after, the Piper to the Sovereign title became official.
Pipe Major Scott Methven of the 5 Scots Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was appointed in 2015 to be Queen Elizabeth II’s new Piper to the Sovereign. It’s considered one of the highest accolades to a piper in the Armed Forces. But the Daily Mail recently reported that he had to relinquish his duties because of unexpected family reasons. Due to Methven’s abrupt resignation, this is the first time there has been no official bagpipe player for the Queen since the four-year gap during World War II.
The good news is that the Queen’s staff is hurrying to line up a replacement for her so she can listen to her beloved bagpipes once again.
Next, here are the 13 reasons why Queen Elizabeth will never give up the throne.