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A Part of History - Alumnus Simon Lindley, Musician in the British Army.

A Part of History

  • Date11 September 2023

Royal Holloway alumnus, Simon Lindley, is a Musician in the British Army. One year on from the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, he spoke to us about his varied role and reflects on the incredible honour of being part of both her funeral procession and King Charles III’s Coronation procession earlier this year.

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Simon joined the army as a musician and began his basic training after graduating from Royal Holloway with a BMus in Music in 2015. He went on to the Royal Military School of Music where he learnt the fundamentals of being a military musician before being posted to the Band of the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC), now the British Army Band Sandhurst.

Throughout his career to date, Simon has been fortunate enough to explore many countries and has performed at the FA Cup Final, carried out ‘Changing of the Guard’ in London and Windsor, and played for garden parties at Buckingham Palace. “The work can be challenging and difficult at times, but also incredibly rewarding,” Simon says. “As well as having a career that is my hobby which is something I really value, I am privileged to be part of a very unique role that enables me to have some truly amazing experiences.”

One of Simon’s most significant and memorable performances was at the funeral procession for Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2022. “All of the bands in the army were on standby to be part of the funeral,” he explains. “To have received the news that the Queen had died and to know we would then be a part of this huge, historic occasion was a very humbling experience. It was one of those moments that was unfortunately inevitable, but that no one expected to happen so suddenly.”

Image: Crown Copyright

In preparation for the funeral, Simon and his bandmates were put through rigorous rehearsals to ensure that everything would be executed flawlessly on the day. “We stood, awaiting the end of the service at Westminster Abbey, with crowds of people in silence, a very different atmosphere to the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations we had taken part in only a few months previously. With the conclusion of the service and the coffin placed upon the State Gun Carriage, the procession stepped off to take Her Late Majesty to Wellington Arch, before she travelled by hearse to Windsor Castle.

“The atmosphere after the event was very sombre – we weren’t quite sure how to feel or aware of the impact we had made. It wasn’t until returning home and seeing all the articles and footage that we really started to know what a key part we played. An event streamed to over four billion people around the world, is likely to never happen again. It was a truly humbling experience and I’m incredibly proud to be able to say that I had an involvement.”

Image: Crown copyright

Simon then had the great honour of being involved in King Charles III’s Coronation procession earlier this year. “I felt immensely proud knowing I would be part of another hugely momentous occasion within the space of a year,” he says.

“The rehearsal process was incredibly intense once again. The only rehearsal in situ before the day was overnight and involved some rather unique travel experiences! The band travelled up by chartered train, in full uniform with our instruments, then marched from Waterloo Station to Wellington Barracks before then heading to our varying starting positions along the route. It was a very eerie moment, being in central London in full uniform at 3am, stood in silence awaiting the command to step off.

“On the day itself it was an amazing feeling to march up The Mall towards Westminster Abbey, hearing the Coronation being broadcast on speakers, finding it slightly difficult not to get too distracted by Zadok the Priest being sung by the choir as the service began. Once we were in position, we had about an hour’s wait before the Procession stepped off. It was a slightly soggy affair, but spirits remained high with the crowd’s great morale and the broadcast of the Coronation service to keep us occupied. Before we knew it, it was two minutes until step off to the gardens of Buckingham Palace and the excitement began again.

“Having the entire military procession formed up in the gardens of Buckingham Palace was the most memorable part of the day for me. Seeing the King and Queen appear in the gardens to greet the procession was amazing. The resounding ‘Three cheers for His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen’ echoed all around and the enormity of what we had just been a part of started to sink in.”

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