The Queen’s ‘Royal Bagpiper’ Apparently Plays for Her Every Morning at Balmoral

The role's official title is Bagpiper to the Sovereign, and they play at 9am.

Queen Elizabeth II inspects soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland
(Image credit: WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Obviously there are many rules and traditions that members of the royal family commit to, and just because we don’t always know why something is important, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a perfectly decent reason. Like how you have to stop eating when the Queen stops, or how the dress code requires women not cross their legs, or how the royal family always takes an MP hostage when Parliament opens (it’s a thing)...You get the idea.

But perhaps the strangest tradition I have so far heard coming from the Queen is that there is an appointed Bagpiper to the Sovereign, who plays for the Queen outside her window for 15 minutes every morning while she’s staying at Balmoral Castle. Fifteen. Minutes. Of bagpipes. It probably makes sense, since Balmoral is the family's Scottish residence and bagpipes are even above kilts and haggis on the list of Very Scottish Things. But 15 minutes—starting at 9am, by the way—just feels like an awful lot of bagpipes to listen to every day. Then again, if it's good enough for the Queen...

The position of Bagpiper to the Sovereign was recently held by Pipe Major Scott Methven, according to the Express, who left in 2019 after four years in Her Majesty’s musical service. And not only did he play for her, but the Queen and the royal family even showed up for him in a moment of crisis. When Methven’s wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer, he told the BBC, the Queen “looked after” his children, who stayed at Balmoral while Methven attended to his wife. And later, shortly before his wife passed away, the Queen gave the entire family permission to stay at Windsor Castle all together. “And that’s memories,” Methven said. Check out the full video of his interview with BBC here.

Methven added, “People think what [they] will about the Royal Family or the Queen, but they pulled it out of the bag for me.”

That story is so touching it makes us want to reconsider our previous stance on bagpipes.

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