However, for the majority, bagpipe music is powerfully evocative, stirring the soul and conjuring up images of the untamed Highlands, majestic stags and national pride all beautifully packaged in a tartan ribbon of sound. As the official instrument of Scotland, soldiers have been beckoned to the battlefields, sportsmen energised for their national matches and pageants promoted with the rallying notes from bagpipes. From celebrations to commemorations, they play their part in enhancing already heightened emotions.
Even the most stoic viewers of the funeral of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh must have felt a lump lodge in their throats as the lone piper marched solemnly out of St George’s Chapel. The swirling skirl of the historical lament Flowers of the Forest gently fading as the coffin was lowered simultaneously wrenched and swelled hearts. Pipe Major Colour Sergeant Peter Grant was the man who had the honour and responsibility bestowed on him that day. He admits, “I was well aware that my performance was about to be broadcast to 12 million people worldwide so there was a lot of pressure prior to playing. However, when it came down to the moment my nerves went – I think because I was involved with the service. I felt a sense of emotion and sadness when I saw Her Majesty, who had lost her husband of so many years.”
Piping was destined to be part of Grant’s profession from a young age. Taking up the instrument when he was seven, he was already proficient in his teens. Then, he tells me, “I joined the Army after seeing The Queen’s Royal Guard at Balmoral Castle. Mesmerised by how smart they were, I wanted to be part of it. It was always my ambition to play at the Braemar Gathering and after I achieved this, I wanted to take my hobby to another level.” It’s fair to say he’s passed muster.
Grant’s reference to Gatherings alludes to the royal family’s long-embedded love for Scotland, which extends to the bagpipes. Indeed, Queen Victoria created the position of Piper to the Sovereign in 1843 upon discovering that the Marquess of Breadalbane had his own personal piper. It is a role still active today, traditionally held by a serving, non-commissioned officer and Pipe Major from a Scottish or Irish regiment. One of his most important duties consists of playing beneath HM The Queen’s window every morning at nine o’clock for a quarter of an hour when she is in her primary royal residences. Imagine the drinks party conversation:
“So what do you do?”
“Well, I’m The Queen’s alarm clock.”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Stills going strong
Some of our finest whisky distilleries have been run by the same families for generations, their spirits as unique as their history
Walking in our grandfathers' footsteps
There’s no better way to enjoy unspoilt countryside, companionship and testing birds than on a walked-up day – just how it used to be
Scotland, Fleming's other secret agent
Much like an extra character, Scotland has had a starring role in many Bond films – but was 007 a Scot?
Well I'll be blowed
Bagpipes, long associated with royal reveille and haggis, are hitting the right note in other areas
The battle for birds
Part of the fun of a shoot day is letting your dog retrieve a few of your birds, says David Tomlinson, bemoaning the advent of the big picking-up packs
Dreaming of the perfect pools
As your mind wanders while sat on the riverbank during a slow day, try conjuring up the perfect stretch of salmon water
The hunting horn
A passionate American hunter has compiled a comprehensive reference on the instrument that punctuates a day’s hunting
While digital demons have upped the horror ante, medieval ghost stories still have the power to chill host stories have all but
HOW TO… … plan for a year of sporting achievement
As the first page of the 2022 calendar is turned, here is our month-by-month guide to ticking off those sporting firsts
Art in the field
Madeleine Bunbury is travelling the globe to find 80 subjects to fill her life-size canvases. Janet Menzies tries to think of 80 breeds
OUTLANDISH ‘OUTLANDER SWEATSHOP!
Weary cast & crew complain they're dead tired & freezing their butts off making hit show
Gateway to Scotland
Engage business contacts with culinary and cultural adventures in Glasgow.
QUEEN, 95, DERAILS ANDREW SEX PROBE
Calls off law dogs investigating claim favorite son raped Epstein slave, 17
LAND OF THE PICTS
New excavations reveal the truth behind the legend of these fearsome northern warriors
CRUSADER KINKS PART I
Spreading the love throughout Paradox’s medieval soap opera, Crusader Kings III
A SPONTANEOUS CRUISE ALONG SCOTLAND’S WILD WEST COAST PROVED TO BE A VOYAGE OF SURPRISES FOR PHIL JOHNSON
A Wee Dram
There’s more to love about Scotland’s favorite libation once you discover the magic
Taking Scotland in Stride
A walk through the Highlands and Borders is the best way to touch this country’s history and nature
Scotland Makes Periods Less Painful
The country is the first in the world to offer free, universal access to sanitary products
GEOLOGY 101 Columnar Basalt
A distinctive volcanic structure found throughout the world has been given fanciful names: “Organ Pipes” in Namibia and Victoria, Australia; “Kilt Rock” and “Samson’s Ribs” in Scotland; “Giant’s Causeway” in Northern Ireland; “Thunderstruck Rocks” in Romania; “Devils Tower” in Wyoming and “Paul Bunyan’s Woodpile” in Utah, USA; the “Baigong Pipes” in China; and the “Cliff of Stone Plates” in Vietnam. High-resolution satellite images have even shown similar as-yet-unnamed structures on Mars.