Coldstream Guards band tune up for royal wedding

Coldstream Guards Band
Coldstream Guards Band

by Janice Gillie

the Band of the Coldstream Guards will have a live audience of around six hundred thousand along The Mall in London, plus an estimated two billion people around the world who will be watching on television, as they take their place for the royal wedding tomorrow, Friday, April 29.

The band is well used to being part of the country’s ceremonial occasions as well as being music stars in the own right, but without doubt this will be their biggest public event to date.

Lieutenant Colonel Graham Jones, senior director of music of the Household Division, said despite the pressure the band is well prepared. “There are a lot of experienced people in the band and they will take it in their stride, but they will still enjoy being part of a moment in history,” he said.

“That’s one of the great privileges of what we do. This is not the normal state ceremonial, it’s a big event, and therefore some of the younger guys are going to be nervous. It’s a long stand. They want to play the best they can play.”

The band kick off proceedings as they march down the Mall at 9.15am to Buckingham Palace They will remain in position for over three hours, before the wedding ceremony, only downing instruments for a breather as the crowds listen to the live relay of the service at Westminster Abbey.

The Coldstream Guards Band is renowned around the world and in 2009 signed a record deal with Universal’s Decca Label. Their best selling debut album ‘Heroes’ hit the number one spot and they followed it up with the appropriately entitled second album Pride of the Nation’.

This second album has already gone to No.1 in the classical album charts. Their website says: “At a time when the country has much to be proud of with the Royal Wedding imminent, and the 2012 Olympic Games on the horizon, this album captures the mood of the nation.

“The album is a celebration of what it means to be British, it contains stirring anthems and hymns, and it showcases the best music from the best military band, from the Queen’s own Guard. “

They play a wide variety of music from classic through to pop. Lieutenant Colonel Graham Jones, the Band of the Coldstream’s director of music, said the job of his musicians on the day of the royal wedding was to raise the mood of the crowds.

“We’re not just a marching band - we do pop, through to state ceremonial marching music, through to more popular fare and traditional pieces - you name it, we can play it - even Robbie Williams,” he said.

“I’m not going to give too much away about what we’ll play on the day but it will be patriotic, show tunes and sing-along stuff but it will be lots of fun.”

On the wedding day more than five military bands from across the three services will be stationed at various points along the route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey.

Standing in full uniform without any break for hours at a time is something the Guards are well trained for.

“The hazards are very similar to all soldiers,” Jones said.

“What you don’t want to happen is for somebody to faint. That can happen. If a soldier falls to the ground a stretch bearer will come in and recover them. But we are used to stresses both mentally and physically. The training and discipline kick in.”

The Coldstream Guard Band have brightened up many a local occasion in Berwick and Coldstream, taking part in ceremonies to mark the regiment receiving the Freedom of Coldstream in 1968 and Freedom of Berwick in 2000. They have visited both towns since and the local connection remains strong.