Queen’s Piper closes funeral with traditional bagpipe song: Who is the piper? What song did he play?

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, currently underway in London and Windsor, featured the Queen’s personal piper who played at the time of her death at Balmoral. Who is the Queen’s piper, what is their role, and what songs did they play at her Majesty’s funeral?

What is the Queen’s piper?

The Queen’s piper (also known as ‘the Piper to the Sovereign’) is a position in the British Royal Household responsible for playing the bagpipes at the request of their Sovereign.

This role was established in 1843 during the reign of Queen Victoria.

A piper plays as the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II departs St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, after a prayer service. The hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II will depart St Giles' Cathedral, for Edinburgh Airport, where it will be flown by the Royal Air Force to RAF Northolt, then travel onward to Buckingham Palace, London, where it will lie at rest.


Hide Ad

She established the role after a visit to the Marquess of Breadalbane at Taymouth Castle, where she discovered the Marquess had her own personal piper.

Who is the Queen’s piper?

Pipe Major Paul burns, a.k.a. Maj Burns of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, is the 17th holder of this historic role and has been the Queen’s piper since 2021.

Maj Burns was the Queen’s piper at the time of her passing at Balmoral Castle.


Hide Ad
A piper plays a lament piper aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, moored in Leith, Edinburgh, ahead of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

During Her Majesty’s state funeral, before her coffin left Westminster Abbey for Windsor, he played as the service was wrapping up and the congregation stood up.

What songs did the Queen’s piper play?

Maj Burns, the Queen’s piper, played a traditional piece on the bagpipes at the Queen’s state funeral.


Hide Ad

He played a rendition of the piece ‘Sleep, Dearie, Sleep’ in closing Her Majesty’s service.

After his performance, Matthew Jorysz (the Abbey’s assistant organist) played Johann Sebastian Bach’s ‘Fantasia in C Minor’ as the procession of her coffin to Windsor began.

What other songs were played at the Queen’s funeral?

Leading up to the Queen’s service, Mr Jorysz played several pieces including Elegy Op 58 by Sir Edward Elgar, Reliqui Domum Meum by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and Fantasy On O Paradise by Malcolm Williamson.


Hide Ad

He also played Symphony no. 5 in D or ‘Romanza’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Sonata in G Op 28 and Sospiri Op 70 both by Elgar.

Hymns sung during the funeral included The Day Thou Gavest, All Loves Excelling, Lords Is Ended and Love Divine, and The Lord’s My Shepherd.

Why were the Queen’s funeral hymns chosen in particular?

Certain pieces played at the Queen’s state funeral are reminiscent of happier times during her Majesty’s marriage to Prince Philip and her coronation.


Hide Ad

The songs were chosen with this in mind as they hold a special significance to the Queen and to Westminster Abbey itself.

For example, the hymn ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’ was one sung at Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s wedding in the abbey in 1947 - it was said to be a favourite hymn of hers.

Another hymn, chosen for its royal symbolism, is ‘Love Divine, All Loves Exceeding’ featured today as it was heard during the Prince and Princess of Wales’ wedding in 2011.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.