Andrew's Tips: Pipers to the Queen MotherBy Andrew T. Lenz, Jr., Santa Cruz, California, ©2004-2012
The following is a list of bagpipers to the Queen Mother of United Kingdom from when the position was established in 1953 through to 2002, the year of her death. If you have something to contribute, please let me know.
The complete roll of Personal Pipers to H.M. Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother
*Military service prior to Territorial Army (Reserves) in which all Personal Pipers served.
The Pipe Majors de Laspee, Duncan, Spoore and King were each awarded the R.V.M. (The Silver Medal of The Royal Victorian Order).
Whereas the pipers appointed to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II were serving regular Army pipe majors, the pipers appointed to H.M. Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother were all from The Territorial Army (Reserve Forces).
It was in 1935 that H.R.H. The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of York, graciously accepted the Honorary Colonelcy of The London Scottish Regiment. Upon the abdication of Edward VIII and the Coronation of H.M. King George VI, the then Queen Elizabeth, requested to remain as Honorary Colonel. It was following the death of King George VI and the Coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II that the now "Queen Elizabeth - The Queen Mother" requested from her regiment that a piper be appointed as "Personal Piper to H.M. Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother." Thus in 1953, the honorary appointment was established.
Note: The QM was also Honorary Colonel of The Black Watch, but her colonelcy of the L.S. was earlier.
Appointment and Duration.
All the QM Personal Pipers—except one—were the current pipe major of The London Scottish Pipes & Drums at the time of their appointment. Leslie de Laspie was the pipe sergeant at the time of his appointment, but very soon after, was appointed pipe major. While the LSP&D now has some civilian members, the pipe major has—to date—always been a serving reservist. Selection of the Personal Piper, was almost "hereditary," as one took up the pipe majorship of the L.S., but an interview and a recommendation to H.M. was the deciding factor.
Much like the Sovereign's Piper, the duration of service as the piper to the Queen Mother depended on the remaining length of service as a reserve. (For instance, PM John Backen's service with the London Scottish Regiment terminated with his retirement just a few weeks before the Queen Mother's death; she would never appoint another personal piper.)
There was no additional financial compensation as Personal Piper to the Queen Mother. As PM Spoore explains, "The appointment was indeed an honour, financial reward would not have been relevant."
The duties included the attendance of "Her Piper" on three mornings of each week, to play in the gardens of her residence—Clarence House—beneath her window. Her piper would also play as and when requested (sometimes with the Queen's Piper) at St. James's and Buckingham Palaces and other royal residences. He would occasionally also accompany her on official visits to galleries, theaters etc. and for various functions such as: balls, banquets, royal visits, investitures, premiers, private parties and the like.
The duties somewhat lessened over the years with the aging of The Queen Mother. To quote PM Christopher MacPherson, "My duties were to play in the gardens of Clarence House on the second Wednesday of each month when Her Majesty was in residence from 9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m."
The Passing of the Queen Mother.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother, died (in her 102nd year) at The Royal Lodge, Windsor, on March 30, 2002. Her State Funeral was held on Friday, April 5, 2002. PM C. Macpherson and PM J. Spoore (despite his having retired from the post 12 years earlier) had the honor to play at her funeral. (PM John Bracken was on sick leave recovering from injury as an officer of The City of London Police and was unable to attend.)
A massed band of just under 200 pipers and drummers, marched the gun carriage bearing the Queen Mother's coffin from Westminster Palace where she had laid in state, to Westminster Abbey playing the tunes "My Home" and "The Mist Covered Mountains" (played in funeral march time). "Of't In The Stilly Night" was the lament played at The Abbey.
PM John Spoore said, "It was a very sad but proud day."
PM Christopher MacPherson informed me, "As I was still serving when Her Majesty sadly passed away, I was recalled by Her Majesty The Queen to play the lament, Flowers of the Forest, in tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother at The Royal Caledonian Ball as Her Majesty The Queen is The Patron. This event took place on 29th April 2002 twenty-four days after Her Majesty's State Funeral. I am proud to have been Her Majesty's last Personal Piper to have played for Her and to have carried her banner."
Thank you to Pipe Major John F. J. Spoore, RVM who was kind enough to provide me practically all the details for this page and put up with my flow of questions. Also to PM Christopher MacPherson and PM John Bracken for their very helpful contributions.
This page last updated Monday, March 19, 2012.