The Regiment of the Coldstream Guards was formed in 1650 by George Monck, a General in Oliver Cromwell’s “New Model Army” and it is one of the oldest Regiments in the world. In 1661, shortly after the Restoration of The Monarchy, The Regiment was re-commissioned by King Charles II as Household Troops, first formed in the town of Coldstream, in the Scottish/English Borders.
From 1742 The Regiment had Drummers and a “Band of Music”. This was eight civilian musicians who were hired by the month by Officers of the Regiment to provide music for the Changing of the Guard. When, in 1785, the musicians were asked to perform at an aquatic excursion to Greenwich, they declined on the grounds that the performance was “incompatible with their several respectable and private engagements”. As a result, The Regiment asked The Duke of York, Colonel of The Regiment, for a regular attested band. The Duke agreed, and from Hanover, Germany, he sent twelve musicians under the direction of Music Major C G Eley. The group consisted of two oboes, four clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, one trumpet and a serpent. The date of the establishment of The Band of The Coldstream Guards, was May 16th 1785.
During its long and distinguished existence, The Band of The Coldstream Guards, now numbering 48 musicians and a Director of Music, has achieved a worldwide reputation for excellence.
On 18th June 1944 the greatest tragedy in the history of The Band of The Coldstream Guards occurred. The band was playing in the Sunday Service in the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, when a German VI Flying Bomb struck it. The chapel was demolished, 124 people were killed, including The Coldstream Guards Band’s Director of Music, Major Windram, and also five musicians. Over 100 members of the congregation were injured. Despite this disaster, the band continued to function and followed the Allied Forces to Europe after D Day that same year.
Since 1945, the Band, in addition to its regular duties, has performed worldwide, including tours to North America, Japan and Australasia.
The Band of the Coldstream Guards, one of the oldest Military Bands in the world, has been in existence for 239 years of continuous military service.
Northumbrian Airs – Trevor Sharpe LVO, OBE
This march is comprised of a number of traditional folk melodies associated with the North East of England, the traditional recruiting ground of the Coldstream Guards. Arranged by former Director of Music of the band, Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Sharpe, it includes the melody of a Regimental favourite, Blaydon Races. The march is still performed routinely at Regimental occasions and during ‘Changing of the Guard’ at Buckingham Palace.
The Sword and The Crown – Simon Haw MBE
This March was composed in 2021, by RCAM Corps Colonel Simon Haw MBE, then Commanding Officer of the Bands of the Household Division, for the Grand Finale of “The Sword and The Crown Musical Spectacular” which saluted Royal Colonel of The Blues and Royals, HRH The Princess Royal.
As it was reported at the time:
“As the sun turned a honey gold, HRH The Princess Royal stepped down from her carriage onto the Parade Square at Horse Guards. Escorted along The Mall by 15 horses, officers’ and men of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, the picture was timeless, as the light reflected off the cuirasses and helmets, the sound of horses, metal and leather punctuating the crowds who had gathered to watch the spectacle.
A balmy summer’s evening provided the perfect setting for The Sword and The Crown, a Military Musical Spectacular. As the Massed Bands of the Household Division were joined by the Pipes and Drums of the London Scottish Regiment and the combined University Officer Training Corps, the bands of the Royal Yeomanry, and the Honourable Artillery Company, the mix of contemporary and traditional tunes filled the air.
The Programme took us on a trip around Global Britain and beyond to Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. It then paid tribute to The Royal British Legion, recognised the work in support of conservation in Zambia, the legacy of Kneller Hall and the thrilling Massed Bands’ own arrangement of James Bond 007 film theme tunes.
The Finale, with The March, The Sword and The Crown, brought us back to Service, Loyalty and the Commitment made by those in our Forces.”
Royal Celebration – Roger Swift
Royal Celebration was composed for the 1981 Wembley Pageant by a former Director of Music of the band, Major Roger Swift. Major Swift sadly passed away in 2023 and the band had the privilege of performing Royal Celebration at his memorial service at the Royal Military Chapel.