Cover Queen Elizabeth II stands on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Platinum Pageant. (Photo: Getty Images)

The piper plays within her earshot every morning

Have you ever wondered how Queen Elizabeth starts her day? If you can’t imagine the Queen being woken up by an iPhone alarm blaring at her, you imagine correctly.

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The Queen wakes up to the sound of live bagpipes, played by a musician whose official title is “piper to the sovereign”. He plays them by her window at 9am for 15 minutes.

The musician follows the Queen to the royal residences of Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Balmoral. When the Queen is at Sandringham, however, the musician reportedly does not follow her, as there is no space for him to stay in. 

Today, Queen Elizabeth’s piper is pipe master Richard Grisdale, of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. Grisdale began his tenure in 2019. Gordon Webster, who served as the Queen’s piper from 1995 to 1998, was reportedly made to memorise over 700 songs—because the Queen allegedly didn’t like him repeating the same tunes every day. 

The use of bagpipes as an alarm clock for the sovereign began in 1843 during the reign of Queen Victoria, according to the Bagpipe News. When Victoria and her husband Prince Albert stayed at Taymouth Castle in Scotland, the former waxed lyrical about the bagpipes she had heard—and was inspired to hire a bagpipe player named Angus Mackay as the first Piper to the Sovereign. Mackay played the royal bagpipes under the Queen’s bedroom window for about an hour every morning and evening. The tradition has since continued.

If only we could all wake up to beautiful live music every morning—instead of our dreadful smartphone alarms.


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