Paul Johnson is a musician in the Band of the Irish Guards based at Wellington Barracks in central London. The Irish Guards band is one of the five foot guards bands that make up the Household Division.
This year is a very special year for the Bands of the Household Division, with a once in a lifetime celebration of the Queen’s 60 year Reign.
Armed Forces Muster Parade
With the a strong link between the Royal Family and the Armed Forces, it was only fitting that as part of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, there would be a Tri-Service Armed Forces Parade. The Bands of the Irish and Welsh Guards were invited to form a Massed Band to be a part of the Army Contingents.
With over 2,500 personnel on parade, it was certainly a challenge for the Brigade Major and the Garrison Sergeant Major to get everyone together to rehearse the drill and the march past until it was perfect. However after a trip to ATC Pirbright (A trip down memory lane for a few in the Band, as it was once known as the Guards Depot), everyone had a clearer idea of what was expected of them on the parade!
With rehearsals complete, the Band set off to Windsor at 6:30am on Saturday 19th May. With the vast number of soldiers on parade, and not enough facilities in the grounds of Windsor, the Band had to go ready dressed in full uniform. This did not go down very well with the Band as the thought of sitting on a warm coach in tweed trousers, and a felt tunic (with a quilted lining) for 5 hours before the parade was due to start, did not sound appealing!
A World Record Attempt
As part of the celebrations in London this year, an attempt was staged to mark the run-up to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, by having the longest line of Fanfare Trumpeters playing at the same time.
So on a sunny Tuesday afternoon the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Foot Guards Bands as well as the Marines and Royal Artillery (and not forgetting the lone drummer from the Scots Guards Band) formed up in Wellington Barracks to attempt the record.
With the current record set at 12, Lt Col Stephen Barnwell was pretty confident that the 91 Trumpeters on parade would break this record with relative ease, although a little less confident with the challenge of getting the Fanfare Trumpets playing together and in tune! 1 minute and 3 seconds later after the fanfare had been played, and most of the Borough of Westminster wondering what the racket was; the news was in that the record had been broken!
Queens Jubilee Concert
As many of you saw over the extended Bank Holiday weekend, the Massed Trumpeters of the Foot Guards Bands (not all 91 thank goodness!) took part in the line up of Celebrity singers and Comedians, as part of this once in a lifetime opportunity which I found a very exciting experience!
As well as brushing shoulders on stage with Robbie Williams (especially when we blockaded him halfway through his opening song!) the Trumpeters had the opportunity to meet with the Celebrities off stage as well. Many of them wanted pictures taken with us in our uniforms and funny bearskin hats, of which many of the Trumpeters obliged eagerly!
Queens Jubilee Procession
At the end of the Queens Jubilee Procession the Irish Guards Band had the privilege of being ‘Pride of Place’ inside the forecourt of Buckingham Palace for the “Feu de Joie” and the National Anthem. The perfect ‘Front Seat’ for the Band to enjoy premier views of the Royal Family.