Paul, of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, became the Queen’s 17th Pipe Major in 2021, taking over from Pipe Major Richard Grisdale. The tradition dates back to the time of Queen Victoria who issued the position in 1843 after she discovered that the Marquess of Breadalbane had her own piper. In a letter addressed to her mother she once wrote: ‘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’.
Victoria was introduced to the instrument in 1842 on the occasion of her first visit to the Highlands with Prince Albert. The story goes that it was because she fell so in love with Scotland that Albert bought her the bewitching Balmoral 10 years later.
Described by Princess Eugenie as ‘the most beautiful place on earth’, Balmoral was apparently the late Queen’s favourite home. An opinion shared by her grandfather, King George V, who once said: ‘I am never so happy as when I am fishing the pools of the Dee.’
Queen Elizabeth II had the instrument played to her since her accession to the throne in 1952, at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Holyroodhouse or Balmoral.