There is one man who will always travel with the Queen, and no, it's not Prince Philip, her personal secretary, or even her butler! In fact, this person's whole position is to ensure that the Queen wakes up in the morning – by playing the bagpipes! The Piper of the Sovereign has been a filled position in the royal household since 1843 – apart from a four year gap during WWII - with only 15 people having held the title since its creation, and the title holder is responsible for playing the bagpipes whenever Her Majesty requests it. The current Piper is Pipe Major David Rodgers from the Irish Guard, and is considered one of the highest accolades to a piper in the Armed Forces.
Pipe Major David Rodgers from the Irish Guard is the Queen's current piper
The Piper must play every day at 9am for 15 minutes under the monarch's window while she is staying at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral or Holyroodhouse, and is in charge of the entry and exit of 12 pipes that play at State banquets. While at Windsor, Balmoral and Holyroodhouse, the Piper also pipes at the dinner table. However, he doesn't accompany Her Majesty during her time at Sandringham, due to the lack of accommodation.
The monarchy has had an official piper since 1843
The role was created by Queen Victoria after she discovered the Marquess of Breadalbane has her own piper. In a letter to her mother about the position, she 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." Speaking about playing for the Queen to WMUR-TV, Gordon Webster, who was the Piper to the Sovereign in mid to late 1990s, said the experience was: "Fantastic. Just the ultimate piping job in the world." Opening up about the particulars of the role, he continued: "Because the Queen didn't like that you repeated tunes every other day, so I probably had about 700 or 800 tunes under my belt and they're all [in my head] because as a bagpiper you don't use music."
Gordon happened to be the Queen's piper during a very difficult time for the royal family – the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. Speaking about that time, he said: "Actually, William and Harry tried these bagpipes that night, then I went back to Balmoral Castle and we heard the bad news."