Both Rowan and McCrindle benefited personally from the wealth of opportunity Army piping and drumming offers. Rowan grew up on the Isle of Tiree, which had a population of just 653 recorded in the 2011 census. “At that time, you either did fishing, farming… or something else,” he says. He didn’t plan to join the Army, but took up piping because “it was in the family” and something to do to pass the “very dark winters… There was no Xbox,” he says. “There were power cuts and the fire was on and the practice chanter would be out. I think for me and for all the young pipers nowadays, it’s the opportunities it brings. [I’ve] been all round the world, playing for high-profile people.” 

Pipers were first employed by the Army in the reign of Queen Victoria, after she first visited Scotland in 1842. A Sovereign’s Piper has been in post ever since. Rowan and the Senior Pipe Major have already played for King Charles at the Ghillies Ball in Balmoral. The continuation of this tradition is “music to our ears, because it just shows that moving forward, the King is taking a keen interest… in the Pipes and Drums,” says Rowan. “As a change though, we used to meet her Majesty when she came out of the dining room, but this time, after the reeling had finished and before the King retired, he asked for us all to come in personally to the dining room, where he and the Queen met us all and had a nightcap to say thank you very much.” 

The school also had a visit from the Princess Royal last year. Rowan describes Princess Anne as “really knowledgeable. The outgoing Senior Pipe Major at that time wrote her a nice pipe tune, so I’m sure that was a discussion point round the dinner table afterwards, because they’re all passionate about it in some shape or form. I’m sure as the younger generation comes along behind, they will continue the legacy the late Queen left.” 

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