An interview with the current Sovereign’s Piper, Pipe Major Richard Grisdale, featured in the July 2019 Piping Times. With this year being the bicentenary of the birth of Queen Victoria, who in 1843 instituted the position, we reproduce on a series of articles written on the subject by Neville T. McKay.

Neville T. McKay was a New Zealander who immigrated to Scotland in the late 1940s to study piobaireachd and Gaelic. He studied under John MacDonald of Inverness for five years from 1949-1953. He placed third in the Gold Medal at the 1951 Argyllshire Gathering and second in 1952.

McKay returned to New Zealand shortly after John MacDonald’s death although he visited Scotland later on to continue studying ceòl mòr with Pipe Major Donald MacLeod and Robert Brown and Robert Nicol, the ‘Bobs of Balmoral’ of Balmoral”.

McKay’s articles appeared in the April-July 2001 editions of the Piping Times. Unfortunately, McKay died not long after publication.

Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria.

The articles cover the first pipers who held the position of Sovereign’s Piper, beginning with Angus MacKay, and illustrate the importance of the position in elevating the status of piping.

The first article is reproduced HERE. We will post Mr McKay’s other articles over the next few days.