In June, as part of its ceremonial duties, the Central Band of the Royal Air Force returned to the forecourt of Buckingham Palace as it represented the Royal Air Force in providing the Queen's Guard. Under the leadership of Director of Music Flight Lieutenant Chris I’Anson, Bandmaster Warrant Officer Terry Gardner, and Drum Major Flight Sergeant Paul Phelan, the musicians of the Central Band entertained crowds numbering into the tens of thousands over the course of eight days. These audiences were treated to a variety of works. From some old RAF favourites, to the film scores of Ennio Morricone, to the music of Queen, the Central Band yet again displayed its quality by putting on a brilliant show. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the weather, with the Band’s involvement on two of the Guard Dismounts cancelled due to heavy rain. Weather permitting, the changing of the guard also allowed the Central Band to perform alongside the musicians of its sister Service; namely the Band of the Coldstream Guards, and the Band of the Welsh Guards.
A highlight for the band came on 8 June, which saw the Central Band take on a pivotal role at the Queen’s Birthday celebrations under the direction of Principal Director of Music, Wing Commander Piers Morrell. This was the first time in its history that the Royal Air Force had a ceremonial presence at the Trooping of the Colour. On this, his last engagement as Senior Drum Major, Warrant Officer Gardner had these words;
It’s always a pleasure to perform at Buckingham Palace, but particularly to be a part of the Queen’s birthday celebrations; the historical significance of the day being more than met by the Band, who performed to the very highest standard.
Warrant Officer Terry Gardner
In addition, on top of their ceremonial duties at Buckingham Palace, Sergeant Tim Hynd and Corporal Chris Richards also represented the Central Band by sounding the Last Post at the Ceremony of the Keys in the Tower of London; becoming part of the ceremony’s over seven-hundred-year history.
Article by Senior Aircraftman George Bailey.