How many military bands are there in the UK?

Fewer now than there were back in the '90s, when the number of army military bands was reduced from 69 to 22 bands. The year prior to that Richard Morrison wrote in The Times that ‘one of the oddest statistics about British cultural life is that the Defence Ministry spends more to maintain military bands than the government spends on all the professional orchestras.’ Despite the cut backs, however, there is still a dizzying array of military bands.


Can you list all the bands?

That would take a while. It’s enough to say for now that British military bands are drawn from the music departments of the three armed forces services: the Royal Marines Band Service (from the Royal Navy), the Royal Corps of Army Music (from the British Army) and the Royal Air Force Music (Royal Air Force). And each of these departments comprises several bands.

Which military bands will play at the coronation?

It is likely that all three armed forces will be represented with bands.

What music will they play?

It is likely the RAF band will play the Royal Air Force March Past the official march of the RAF, composed by Henry Walford Davies

We don't have full details yet, but what we do know is that there will be fanfares played by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry and the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force.

At what point during the coronation will they play?

Most likely during the procession after the coronation. At the Queen’s coronation in 1953, the procession band walked at least ten miles, so they should be prepared for a good old hike on 6 May.

Will they play at other points during the coronation?

The Queen’s coronation service featured contributions from several trumpeters drawn from around 20 regiments, so odds are that there will be a fair few trumpeters making an appearance during Charles’s coronation service too.

Will they just play on the day of the coronation itself?

No. The day after the coronation, on Sunday 7 May, the coronation concert held on Windsor Castle’s East Lawn will feature a 74-piece orchestra made up of the Massed Bands of the Household Division.


A couple of months later, on the 4, 5 and 6 July, the Massed Bands of the Household Division and the Massed Pipes and Drums will join forces with the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery for an extravaganza on Horse Guards Parade in which, amongst other things, we will be treated to music by William Walton.


Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.