It has been an honour for Royal Air Force Music Services to support Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this month. From performing at St. Paul’s Cathedral to marching past Buckingham Palace as part of the spectacular Pageant Parade, RAF Musicians have demonstrated their versatility and excellent musicianship at every event they have supported.
Parry’s I Was Glad, the same piece that greeted Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at their wedding ceremony, welcomed the royal party to St. Paul’s Cathedral for the National Service of Thanksgiving for HM The Queen. Having climbed the spiral staircase and shuffled along the narrow ledge above the North Quire, the Fanfare Trumpets of the Central Band of the RAF took their position to play alongside the organ and choir and musicians from the Royal Marines Band Service. As the piece ended, the magnificent sound reverberated around St. Paul’s for several seconds before finally dying away.
The Service included hymns, a new anthem by Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir, and a reading by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The RAF Fanfare Trumpets, conducted from the opposite balcony by Principal Director of Music RAF, Wing Commander Morrell OBE, concluded the Service with Gordon Jacob’s Fanfare to introduce the National Anthem. The note perfect performance was broadcast around the world to over 3.8 million people.
"It was an honour to play at the Service of Thanksgiving for Her Majesty The Queen at St Paul's Cathedral. This once in a lifetime event was broadcast live on BBC 1 and with a congregation of over 2,000 people, the huge sense of occasion contributed to a memory I will never forget."
Following the Service, senior royals and invited guests attended a reception at Guildhall, London. The RAF Salon Orchestra and Wind Quintet of the Band of the RAF Regiment performed during the reception, with the RAF Salon Orchestra performing the National Anthem for all those present.
The Platinum Party at the Palace was a star-studded event taking place on a purpose-built stage in front of Buckingham Palace. Crowds of over 20,000 joined Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and other senior royals for the concert.
Following stunning performances by the likes of Queen, Andrew Lloyd-Weber and Rod Stewart, the Fanfare Trumpets of the Royal Air Force took the stage for Gordon Jacob’s Fanfare and National Anthem, performing to the live audience and a worldwide audience of 13.3 million television viewers. Director of Music Flight Lieutenant Tom Rodda conducted the double fanfare team consisting of 14 brass musicians from the Band of the RAF College and the Band of the RAF
"Standing centre stage in front of Buckingham Palace, looking at and hearing the noise of 20,000 people filling the Mall was a special experience. Having met celebrity stars such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, George Ezra and Sam Ryder, the most memorable moment I'll take away was when our future King, His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, offered his congratulations to us by simply saying, 'Well done boys'"
The Platinum Jubilee celebrations culminated in a spectacular Pageant Parade. In 4 acts, each representing different eras of The Queen’s 70-year reign, the Pageant began with an impressive military parade. A combined band of 70 RAF Musicians under the direction of Senior Drum Major Warrant Officer Paul Phelan and Principal Director of Music Wing Commander Piers Morrell OBE provided the marches for the 250 strong RAF contingent. A second combined RAF band, under the command of Drum Major Flight Sergeant Jeanette Scott and Flight Lieutenant Tom Rodda, led the Commonwealth Contingent, including representatives from 21 Commonwealth countries.
Senior Aircraftwoman Smith was part of the 70-piece band leading the RAF Contingent.
"It was an absolute honour to be involved in the Pageant parade for Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. When we travelled to London for the early morning rehearsal it was amazing to see crowds already stopping to watch us and this gave me a real sense of excitement for how immense the atmosphere was going to be on the day. It was a very proud moment marching up the Mall towards the palace surrounded by thousands of people and that feeling certainly made all the hard work, rehearsals (and blisters!!) worth it. It was a real privilege to play a very small part in such an historic day."
Senior Aircraftwoman Smith
To be involved in national acts of commemoration and celebration are ‘business as usual’ for RAF Music Services, however, we are never complacent about the role RAF Musicians play in such events and the importance of superb musicianship, drill and deportment and professionalism that the public expect and enjoy. Participating in events celebrating Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee has been an honour and a privilege and an experience that those RAF Musicians involved will never forget.