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The Last Post bugler speaks of ‘honour and privilege’ to play at duke’s funeral

Catherine Wylie, PA
·4-min read

The bugler leading The Last Post at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral said it is an “honour and privilege” to perform the poignant role.

Sergeant Bugler Jamie Ritchie, I/C Corps of Drums, Royal Marines, is leading four buglers in playing the piece of music in St George’s Chapel on Saturday.

The 31-year-old, who is from Dundee and lives in Plymouth, will also wear a medal he received personally from Philip after serving in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Bugler Ritchie is among hundreds of military personnel taking part in rehearsals for the funeral at Army Training Centre Pirbright, near Woking, Surrey.

Looking ahead to his central role on Saturday, he told the PA news agency: “It’s incredibly important. We feel nervous.

“We feel the pressure, but we’re channelling that and we’re using that and we’re going to deliver an outstanding performance.

“We’ve rehearsed, we’ve fine-tuned, and we’ve made sure that The Last Post itself will be ready and will make an incredible poignant moment in the service.”

Reflecting on why the duke is so important to the Royal Marines, he said: “He was our Captain General for 64 years.

“We played on numerous occasions when he was in attendance, most notably Horse Guards Parade where he turned up every time.

“And that is the reason I think this is very special for the Royal Marines buglers who are going to be performing The Last Post.”

Members of the Household Cavalry, The Blues and Royals rehearsing for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
Members of the Household Cavalry, The Blues and Royals rehearsing for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on the Drill Square at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking, Surrey. (Victoria Jones/PA)

Sergeant Bugler Ritchie was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and on his return to the UK the Duke of Edinburgh handed him his medal for that deployment.

“It was a real nice, personal touch to receive that from him,” he said, adding: “The best thing about Prince Philip is how relatable he is, I feel.

“As a military person, his background, he makes you feel calm in his presence, and he is a man of few words, and he only said a few words to us on the day, but they made you welcomed and they made you feel calm in his presence, and it was a nice thing to hear on the return to the UK.”

Sergeant Bugler Ritchie is going to wear the medal he received from Philip on Saturday.

“I’ll be wearing it with pride knowing that he handed that to me himself,” he said.

“The memory will grow, and I’ll always look back on this and feel it’s such an honour and privilege to perform The Last Post especially, within the chapel, for such an important personality, within our country and our monarchy.

“And he was such a nice person, relatable. And that’s what makes it even more special.”

Duke of Edinburgh death
Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland 4 Scots (the Highlanders) rehearsing for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on the Drill Square at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking, Surrey (Victoria Jones/PA)

He said The Last Post is a piece that Royal Marines buglers know “inside out”, but that it is unusual for more than one person to play it.

“The amount of preparation that is being done is great and The Last Post is something a Royal Marines bugler plays week in week out, so we know the piece inside out.

“But it’s a little bit different, there’s four people playing it so we’ve had to ensure that we’re dialled into each other, right down to the millisecond and we know exactly what the person next to you is going to play to make it an outstanding performance.”

Military rehearsals for the ceremonial procession at Philip’s funeral have been held in Pirbright all week, and a full dress rehearsal is expected to take place at Windsor Castle on Thursday.

The majority of the personnel gathered on Wednesday were in their Barrack dress as they practised parading and bands rehearsed music including the national anthem, Jerusalem and I Vow To Thee, My Country.

Pirbright was chosen as the centre of military rehearsals for the funeral due to its proximity to Windsor and the infrastructure that allows for regular Covid-19 testing and accommodation.