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Lone Piper’s lament provides poignant end to the Tattoo

The iconic silhouette of the lone piper brings the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to an end each evening throughout the month of August.

The Lone Piper’s performance is a much-loved part of military and Scottish tradition.

The sound of the pipes at the annual show marks a poignant moment of reflection and signifies the end of the night.

The Tattoo is renowned for bringing the magical sound of the massed pipes and drums to the Castle Esplanade.

But no words can describe the compelling harmony of the lament of the lone piper, ‘Guth a Phiobaire’ (The voice of the Piper)

Brora born Senior Pipe Major Colin Simpson has, for the second year running, had the privilege of performing this pivotal role at the Tattoo.

He said:

“It’s a huge honour and privilege to be the lone piper. You become part of a small group of individuals who have had the opportunity to stand on the castle ramparts.”

Since being appointed Senior Pipe Major at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming in April 2022, Colin’s bagpipes have hardly stopped to be filled back up with air.

Last September, Colin was immensely proud to lead Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin out of St Giles cathedral on its final journey from Scotland to England.

This was a humbling, yet mesmerising, moment as he piped Flowers of the Forest, while watched and heard by millions globally.

Colin also joined the massed Pipes and Drums in London and Windsor for the Queen’s funeral procession.

In May, he took part in the King’s Coronation.

In preparation for this year’s Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Colin, as Senior Pipe Major, brought together over 200 pipers and drummers, supporting, guiding, and nurturing them to ensure the musical attributes of the pipes and drums will be at its finest for worldwide broadcast.

The Lone Piper post can only be taken up by serving military personnel who have completed a Pipe Major’s course.

Pipers and Drummers are an integral part of infantry battalions. As soldiers first, they are dual trained as assault pioneers and serve in conflicts all over the world, showing the versatility needed to be part of this unique group of soldiers.

During his military service, Colin has deployed on operations in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

His military and musical skills have also taken him to the USA, Canada, Australia, Jordan, Bahrain and many other countries.

Over the next 12 months, Colin will play at the Ghillies Ball in Balmoral Castle for His Majesty King Charles III and members of the Royal Family. 

He will also be chief instructor on the Pipe Major’s course, starting in September until April 2024.

And Colin will help bring in 2024 to Scotland when he performs as lone piper at Edinburgh Castle on New Year’s Eve.

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