In honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, Colour Sergeant Stuart Gillies, (SCOTS), has revisited the march he composed and presented to Queen Elizabeth when she became the longest reigning monarch in 2015.
It was during Colour Sergeant (CSgt) Gillies’ time as Pipe Major with 2 SCOTS that Her Majesty the Queen reached the incredible milestone. The battalion formed part of the Royal Guard, supporting the Queen’s residence during her time at Balmoral.
I had a very quick conversation with Her Majesty, she said, 'It's such a lovely thing'. CSgt Gillies
When the Officer Commanding the Royal Guard approached CSgt Gillies with a suggestion he compose a piece of music to celebrate the occasion, he jumped at the chance and set about creating the march. Called The Longest Reign, CSgt Gillies performed it in front of Her Majesty, to whom it was also presented as a framed score.
CSgt Gillies, 35, said: “It was a 2:4 march. After composing it, it went through several different people, listening to it and making sure it was mathematically correct. And then it was published, framed and presented to Her Majesty the Queen on the day she became the longest reigning monarch.
“I had a very quick conversation with Her Majesty, she said, ‘It’s such a lovely thing’. It really meant the world to me, having so much admiration for the Royal Family as I have done all these years.”
Recalling the many times he performed in front of the Royal Family, including one occasion when he was a nine-year-old Beaver Scout and Her Majesty came to visit his local town on the Isle of Arran. “Ever since then, going through Cub Scouts, the Duke of Edinburgh’s, Cadets and then the Army, I feel like I’ve spent my whole life in service to Her Majesty,” he said.
“At that moment, to give her something that really did encapsulate all the feelings I had for her becoming the longest reigning monarch, and how much respect I have as a person and as a soldier, it really did mean the world to me.”
CSgt Gillies, who has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq on multiple tours, has a dual role within his battalion. He’s also an Assault Pioneer, which is a specialist light engineering role responsible for constructing tools, clearing man-made obstacles, breaching enemy fortifications and constructing bunkers. Sometimes it involves using explosives to demolish minefields and obstructions.
He is currently preparing soldiers for deployment on Op Shader in Iraq; part of his role as instructor at the Mission Ready Training Centre in Bassingbourn that involves drawing on his experience operating alongside allies and partners on previous tours.
Recalling his time in the Pipes and Drums Platoon of his battalion, he said: “During that time you get amazing opportunities to perform for the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. I’ve also played round the dinner table for the Royal Family at Holyrood and Balmoral Castle, helping the Queen’s Piper when he invites guests in to pipe for the Royal Family.”
CSgt Gillies was born and raised in Lamlash on the Isle of Arran, a small Island off the South West of Scotland. He left at 16 to join the military and has never looked back.
“The best thing about being a military Piper is travelling around the world. The high-profile VIP jobs, with royalty, politicians, movie stars - some of the jobs in sold-out arenas - and travelling the world, has definitely been a highlight of my military career.”