The piper who woke the Queen every morning is playing to rest


For the greater part of her reign, the queen was awakened by the sound of bagpipes playing under her window, in all her country residences. The Piper to the Sovereign has served as a personal alarm clock for decades, ringing for 15 minutes every morning, as well as on state occasions.

But on Monday, the piper will have a different role. The music that marked the start of the Queen’s mornings will now mark the end of her funeral as a final call is played as her coffin is lowered into the royal vault beneath St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The bagpiper will play from the portal between the chapel and the Dean’s Cloister. While he is doing this, he will slowly start walking towards the Deanery, so that the music inside the chapel gradually dies down. It’s a moment full of symbolism, mirroring a similar ending to Prince Philip’s funeral last year.

Before the engagement service in Windsor, the bagpiper will close the state funeral service at Westminster Abbey with a lament.

The role of Piper to the Sovereign dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria. During a visit to the Scottish Highlands, she and her husband, Prince Albert, fell in love with the sound. Since the mission was created in 1843, there have been 17 pipers.

On Monday, the music will be played by Pipe Major Paul Burns of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, who took over last year. The traditional chant of “Lo, dearie, lo” will be played as the Queen’s coffin is laid to rest.

Among the thousands of tributes paid to the Queen this week, one of the most moving was from Scott Methven, who served as the Queen’s piper from 2015 to 2019. In an interview with the BBC, Methven said he was “devastated”. He recalled the Queen’s death, and the many moments of kindness shown during his four years of service.

Methven lost both his parents and his wife within eight months of serving as the Queen’s piper. Speaking to the BBC, Methven recalled “being with the Queen”, who said: “If you’re not here in the morning and you’re not playing the bagpipes, I know you’re out. Don’t wait to ask. Anyone, go home your family needs you because it’s family first .

“You know, Pipes,” the Queen continued, “if anyone has a problem with that, tell them I said it was okay to go.”