Piper to the Sovereign

The Piper to the Sovereign (Scottish Gaelic: Piobair an Bhàn Righ, also known as the Queen's Piper or King's Piper) is a position in the British Royal Household in which the holder of the office is responsible for playing the bagpipes at the Sovereign's request.


The position was established in 1843 when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the Marquess of Breadalbane at Taymouth Castle a year earlier and discovered the Marquess had his own personal piper. The Queen was taken with the idea of having one for herself, writing to her mother, the Dowager Duchess of Kent:

We have heard nothing but bagpipes since we have been in the beautiful Highlands and I have become so fond of it that I mean to have a Piper, who can if you like it, pipe every night at Frogmore.[1]

The office has been held continuously since then (apart from a brief interruption during World War II) and the piper's main duty is to play at 9am for 15 minutes under the Sovereign's window, and on state occasions.[2]

The first Piper to the Sovereign was Angus MacKay, a noted collector and publisher of piobaireachd. Every subsequent piper has been a serving non-commissioned officer and experienced Pipe Major from a Scottish regiment or an Irish Regiment. While the Piper is a member of the Royal Household, he retains his military rank for the duration of the secondment.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Delia Millar (1985). Queen Victoria's Life in the Scottish Highlands. Philip Wilson. p. 20.
  2. ^ a b McKay, Neville (1996), "A History of the Office of Piper to the Sovereign", Folk Music Journal, 7 (2), pp. 188–204, JSTOR 4522546

External linksEdit

Official Royal posts, The Queen's Piper