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Army pipers lead procession marking transfer of the Stone of Destiny

British Army pipers led a ceremonial procession to mark the transfer of the Stone of Destiny from Edinburgh Castle to Perth in Scotland.

Soldiers from Balaklava Company of 5th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, provided sentries and a Quarter Guard with the pipers on show representing The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry and the City of Edinburgh University Officers Training Corp.

The Stone of Destiny is an ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy, used for centuries in the inauguration of its Kings and is seen as a sacred object, although its earliest origins are now unknown.

Also known as the Stone of Scone, the 152-kilo block of sandstone carries enormous symbolism and historic significance and was used last year in the Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey.

That’s what I joined the Army for, these incredible opportunities like today. Pipe Major Mark Macrae

Piper Major Mark Macrae led the procession from the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle, playing ‘The Return of the Stone’ – a tune composed by Major Gavin Stoddard MBE BEM, into Crown Square.

Mark, 49, has been in the Army for nearly 30 years and has travelled the world as a military musician. He has also taken part in various State Ceremonial events in London with the Scots Guards as Pipe Major, including Trooping of the Colour, and has been the Lone Piper during the Edinburgh Tattoo.

Mark, from Golspie in Sutherland, said: “That’s what I joined the Army for, these incredible opportunities like today. Taking part in the Queen’s Birthday Parades were very special and they achieve worldwide attention, so you feel that sense of duty and honour.

“It’s exactly the same during an occasion such as this and being part of the Stone of Destiny ceremony. It’s a massive privilege because there’s not too many people who get to be directly involved.

“This ceremony today is part of Scotland’s history and my family is always very proud of the job that I do.”  

The Governor of Edinburgh Castle, Major General Alastair Bruce OBE VR DL was the senior military representative at the ceremony and welcomed the First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Lord Provost of Edinburgh to the ceremony.

There’s a lot of training to become proficient in what you do, but it’s very much worth it Lance Corporal Maddie Lyons, The Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland

The Scottish and Irish pipers led as the procession across the drawbridge before musicians from The Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland performed a Beating Retreat amid the mist and rain bearing down on the Esplanade.

Lance Corporal Maddie Lyons, 28, has been a bassoonist with The Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland for nearly four years.

She said: “It’s great to be part of history and be among very high-profile guests and be an ambassador for the British Army.

“My bassoon plays a tenor line within the marching musicians, but each individual instrument has their own role within the band, with trombones in the front leading and clarinets bringing up the rear at the back.

“We played for the Coronation and the late Queen’s funeral, and you always feel you are part of these huge, sometimes momentous, occasions.

“There’s a lot of training to become proficient in what you do, but it’s very much worth it. To get to play at Edinburgh Castle is an absolute honour for us all.”

Euan Jardine, a dad of three from Musselburgh, is the Acting Pipe Major for the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and has also travelled the world as an Army musician after joining up at 16.

“I’ve done three operational tours of Iraq and have taken part in all sorts of occasions across the world, which was one of the real attractions of why I joined,” said Euan.  

“You do stand out as a piper, especially with the way you look, as it’s eye catching and iconic to the public, on top of the rousing sounds of the pipes. There’s not many that will ever be able to say they are part of these historic events and your family also feels that pride.”

There’s not many that will ever be able to say they are part of these historic events and your family also feel that pride. Acting Pipe Major Euan Jardine, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

Officer Cadet Archie Clark, 19, is from Crieff in Perth, where the Stone of Destiny is heading. He has played the pipes since the age of nine and is currently studying Economics at university.

He said: “There’s a lot of pride you feel, carrying on centuries of tradition and representing the Army in this way. People love the sound of pipes and there’s no more iconic location in Scotland than Edinburgh Castle.

“There’s a lot of pleasure you get from performing confidently during high-profile events and this has certainly been one of them.”

In 1296, King Edward I of England seized the Stone from the Scots, and had it built into a new throne at Westminster. From then on, it was used in the Coronation ceremonies of the monarchs of England and then Great Britain.

On Christmas Day 1950, four Scottish students removed the Stone from Westminster Abbey in London. Three months later it turned up 500 miles away – at the high altar of Arbroath Abbey.

In 1996, the Stone was officially returned to Scotland. The Stone will only leave Scotland for a Coronation in Westminster Abbey, as happened in 2023.

Following a period of public engagement in September 2019, and in line with a recommendation from the Commissioners for the Safeguarding of the Regalia, the Late Queen gave her approval for the Stone’s relocation to a new Museum in Perth City Hall.

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