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Queen’s alarm clock has very distinctive sound – and it’s a 175-year tradition

A 175-year royal tradition has been waking whomever sits on the throne up every morning with an unusual version of a standard alarm clock.

Every weekday, since Queen Victoria was in power, a lone bagpipe player has woken the head of state by playing beneath the bedroom window at Balmoral, Scotland.

Starting at exactly 9am, and lasting 15 minutes, Piper to the Sovereign Paul Burns has been playing for the Queen since last year.

He was preceded by Richard Grisdale, who performed in the role from 2019.

The role was created after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert took a trip to Taymouth Castle to visit the Marquees of Breadalbane in 1842.

The then-Queen found that the marquess had his own personal piper, and fancied having one for herself.

According to several historical documents, she wrote a letter to her mother, the Dowager Duchess of Kent to state: "We have heard nothing but bagpipes since we have been in the beautiful Highlands and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."

Angus MacKay held the role from that day until 1854. He died five years later, drowning in the River Nith after escaping from the Crichton Royal Institution, which was a royal asylum at the time.

Scott Methven was one of the most famous ones in recent years, as he played for the Queen from 2015 to 2019.

Mr Methven was also bagpiper to the musical stars, having performed alongside Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel.

He was a member of the 5 Scots Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders but had to relinquish his role due to family issues – this led to five weeks of silence around the Scottish estate – the only time that no piper has been in place, other than when it had stopped due to World War One and Two.

Given the undisclosed nature of the issues, a source told the Daily Mail at the time that the Queen had no issue with the departure.

The source said: “The Queen was very understanding and compassionate and agreed that Scott should stop his duties immediately.

“She totally understood his position and told him not to worry."

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