The quirky historical offices that make up the monarch's court

All the Queen’s men… and women: From the Queen’s Piper to her Pages of the Backstairs, they’re the quirky historical offices that make up the monarch’s court. Now a stunning new book celebrates those who proudly hold them

  • Queen’s In Their Name is a new book by portrait photographer Julian Calder, who has captured the Queen    
  • Book celebrates the jobs and offices, ancient and modern, which link directly to the monarch herself 
  • Includes photographs of the Queen’s Bargemaster and the Queen’s Pages of the Backstairs 

They are all devoted to Elizabeth II. But most of them would have been very familiar to Queen Victoria or to the Georgians – or, in some cases, to the Tudors and Stuarts.

Aside from the faces behind the ornate gown or uniform or regalia, everything else is as was. Here is a reminder of the timelessness of our monarchy and of the way it continues to link the present to the past.

From the Queen’s Bargemaster to the Queen’s Equerries to the Queen’s Pages of Honour (not to be confused with the Queen’s Pages of the Backstairs), all the people in the photographs below play their part in keeping the royal show on the road, just as their predecessors did for centuries before them (often in the very same kit).

And now they have been immortalised in a magnificent new book celebrating jobs and offices, ancient and modern, which link directly to the monarch herself. Called Queen’s In Their Name, it specifically involves those who will be called something else in the next reign.

It is the idea of Julian Calder, the portrait photographer whose work over many years has included several commissions to capture the Queen herself. Weekend readers may recall his earlier book with ceremonial expert Alastair Bruce, Keepers, which explored many of Britain’s quirkiest and most ancient offices.

Julian tells me that it suddenly dawned on him one day just how many people called ‘The Queen’s’ something-or-other will suddenly have to become ‘The King’s’. And because we know that the next three sovereigns in the line of succession will be kings, those titles are likely to stay the same for a very long time. 

Indeed, we may not then see anyone made a QC (Queen’s Counsel) or awarded a QGM (Queen’s Gallantry Medal) or appointed a Queen’s Messenger for at least a century. So why not celebrate them all now?

CHIEF OF THE CHIEFS This never-before-seen image comes from Julian Calder’s rainy-day shoot when he convinced the Queen to drive for nearly half an hour along puddled tracks on her Balmoral estate. After hours of stair-rod rain she posed on a moor wearing the mantle of the Order of the Thistle as Queen of Scots and Chief of the Chiefs. She then returned to her mud-spattered Land Rover, tucking her velvet train in after her, just as the rain began to fall once more

THE QUEEN’S PIPER Pipe Major Scott Methven stands by Loch Muick on the Balmoral Estate. He plays every morning outside the Queen’s window at Buckingham Palace, Windsor, Holyrood or Balmoral and carries hundreds of tunes in his head. The small knife (or sgian dubh) in his right sock belonged to Queen Victoria’s servant John Brown

THE QUEEN’S DRESSER Since taking up the post in 1994, Angela Kelly has designed, curated and maintained the Queen’s wardrobe. Colour choice of the outfits is very important to ensure the Queen is visible in crowds. Angela is pictured here with Her Majesty’s mantles of the Order of the Thistle (left) and the Order of the Garter (right). In the centre is the crimson velvet Robe of State and the George IV State Diadem, which is set with 1,333 diamonds

THE QUEEN’S BODY GUARD OF THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD The most ancient royal guard and military corps in Britain are armed with a partisan, a tall, spear-like weapon like that used in the early 1500s. They escort the Queen at all state occasions. Cross belts worn from their left shoulder distinguish them from Yeomen Warders who guard the Tower of London

THE QUEEN’S EQUERRIES Captain Jonny Olley, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Richards and Lieutenant-Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, pictured here in Windsor Great Park, are among the Queen’s most trusted attendants, seen at her side at official engagements and welcoming notable guests

THE QUEEN’S LONG GUARD Ceremonial trumpeters, like Household Cavalry State Trumpeter LCpl of Horse Kate Sandford, are professional musicians and perform fanfares at state occasions

Knowing that none of them would take part without approval from the top, Julian wrote to the Queen’s private secretary explaining his idea. In next to no time, the message came back from the Queen: go ahead.

Alastair Bruce agreed to write the foreword and Julian set about thinking up locations and content. Every portrait would tell a very specific story. Some could only be done at a specific time of year. 

Take the Queen’s Flag Sergeant, the man in charge of the bewildering number of flags and standards which fly in specific places or on certain occasions. Once a year, he takes over the Buckingham Palace ballroom, laying them all out on the floor so that royal staff can learn what they all signify. 

Even then, he can’t display all of them as there are some 150, including the largest of the lot, the Anniversary Standard (which measures 38ft x 19ft – virtually half a tennis court). 

In the wonderful photograph on page 20, we see Sergeant Nathan Bowen standing just behind the Queen’s Personal Flag, an ‘E’ surrounded by a chaplet of roses, which is the one the Queen flies to signify her presence in non-monarchical Commonwealth countries.

It is only when you sink into this glorious book that you realise the Queen is surrounded by an awful lot of crimson and scarlet – and not just on the tunics of her Guards. The Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard (not to be confused with the Yeomen Warders or ‘Beefeaters’ who guard the Tower of London) are the oldest of the Queen’s guards and attend every state occasion.

THE QUEEN’S STUD GROOM The Queen was given her first pony on her fourth birthday. In private moments she still rides in Windsor Great Park on one of her beloved black fell ponies with her stud groom. Terry Pendry, who has taught all the Queen’s grandchildren to ride, sits astride George and holds the tethers of two black fell ponies, Dawn Chorus (left) and Emma (right)

THE QUEEN’S PAGES OF HONOUR When the Queen attends the State Opening of Parliament, her four Pages of Honour carry the lengthy train of her 18ft crimson velvet Robe of State. It is a distinction granted to the sons of members of the nobility and gentry and senior members of the Royal Household. They are pictured in the White Drawing Room in Buckingham Palace, where the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast is often filmed

THE QUEEN’S PAGES OF THE BACKSTAIRS One of four senior servants is always in the Queen’s presence, to serve meals, deliver boxes and care for the corgis. The sword is the one used to bestow knighthoods

THE QUEEN’S LOFTS MANAGER Peter Farrow looks after some 250 racing pigeons on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk and sends a monthly report on them to the Queen. She has owned pigeons since she was a child and is extremely knowledgeable about them and about pigeon racing

Here, too, we find the Queen’s Pages of Honour, the boys chosen to carry the Queen’s (crimson) train behind her at the State Opening of Parliament and a few other state occasions. They wear crimson coats and white gloves, breeches and ruffles.

THE QUEEN’S PAGE OF HONOUR, SCOTLAND The Honourable Augustus Stanhope is Page of Honour, Scotland. His primary role is to hold up the long train of the Queen’s green velvet mantle when she attends the service for the Order of the Thistle in Edinburgh every other year

In medieval times, a page would have learned music, falconry and combat skills before becoming a squire at 14. These days, they are the pre-teen and teenage sons of royal friends and members of the Royal Household. 

The main job requirements are an ability to stand still for long periods of time and to be no taller than the Queen.

Needless to say, there is a great deal of tartan in the mix, too. Being the most Scottish monarch since James I & VI (by dint of her mother’s ancestry), the Queen loves the Scottish traditions of her extended Court. 

The book includes a stirring image of the Queen’s Piper, who plays beneath her window for 15 minutes every weekday morning, whether in London, Windsor or Scotland (before turning to a rather less exotic round of regular administrative duties). 

Julian had a very clear idea of him framed against hillside and water and found the perfect spot by a loch on the Balmoral Estate. ‘I wanted somewhere very remote by the water,’ he says.

‘We drove for miles and the weather was just horrible but the Queen’s Piper wasn’t bothered. He can play more than 200 pieces and the Queen knows them all.’

One of the joys of this book is that it is not only full of intriguing portraits but it also explains why and how these positions came about and how they still play their part today. Take the Queen’s Messengers, who deliver secret Government correspondence to British embassies and high commissions by hand (a lot of it is too sensitive to be entrusted to the post, let alone email). 

THE QUEEN’S ARCHERS Members of the Royal Company of Archers pose in the grounds of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. They serve as the Sovereign’s Body Guard in Scotland, performing duties at ceremonial occasions. They are also an archery club, and every summer compete for the silver Musselburgh Arrow, believed to be the oldest continually held sporting event in the world since its inauguration in 1603. The Match Secretary holds the silver arrow that he won in 2016

THE QUEEN’S FLAG SERGEANT Sergeant Nathan Bowen stands in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace surrounded by some of the 150 flags in his care. His largest is the Anniversary Standard (38ft x 19ft) which is flown on the Queen’s Official Birthday. A small version of the Royal Standard (below) is displayed on aircraft in which the Queen is travelling, but only when the plane is on the ground

THE SOVEREIGN The Queen with the Symbols of Sovereignty, including her throne, the Sword of State and the Imperial State Crown which has a sapphire in the top cross from Edward the Confessor’s ring. Its great ruby, once owned by the Black Prince and worn by Henry V at Agincourt, sits above the Second Star of Africa diamond

As well as carrying a special passport, they wear a badge of office with a silver greyhound. It transpires that this dates back to the days when Charles II was in exile in the Netherlands.

One night he broke the silver greyhounds off an ornamental dish, giving them to trusted emissaries as proof of their credentials.

Julian began the project in 2016 and was still working on it when lockdown kicked in. One of the most recent images is the portrait of the Queen’s Lofts Manager, Peter Farrow, in the royal pigeon lofts at Sandringham. 

The Queen takes a very keen interest in all her birds and receives a monthly report on them. 

THE QUEEN’S MESSENGERS Queen’s Messenger Jake Clark (above left), helped by a driver, loads diplomatic bags at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on Whitehall (‘HBM’ stands for ‘Her Britannic Majesty’). The Corps of Queen’s Messengers, 17 strong, travel the globe and are responsible for the secure delivery of classified diplomatic material

‘When I got there, we let them all fly around for an hour and then got them settled,’ says Julian. ‘It’s fascinating what I have learned while doing this. For instance, it turned out that, during lockdown, the pigeons have been flying further and longer because the air was cleaner.’ 

The bird in Mr Farrow’s hands is a five-year-old champion with 13 wins to his name (and, like all royal pigeons, with the Royal Cypher printed on a ring on its leg).

The Queen’s Lofts were started in the late Victorian period. Some entries in this book, like the Queen’s Flight – now known as 32 (The Royal) Squadron – are positively 20th century. 

However, they are every bit as proud of bearing the Queen’s name as, say, holders of ancient offices like the Queen’s Apothecary or the Queen’s Equerries. 

The latter go back to the days of knights in shining armour (it is an Anglicised version of the French word ‘ecurie’, a stable, where the equerry would be in charge of the monarch’s horses). Julian decided he wanted to photograph the Queen’s three equerries beneath the Philip Jackson statue of her on horseback in Windsor Great Park.

Needless to say, horses loom large in the monarch’s life. We see the Queen’s Bloodstock Adviser and the Queen’s Trainer. Elsewhere, there is the Queen’s Stud Groom, Terry Pendry, the former Household Cavalry Riding Master who has taught the Queen’s grandchildren and regularly rides out with Her Majesty.

While her equestrian team are certainly part of the monarch’s inner circle, few get closer than the Queen’s Dresser (her actual title is ‘Personal Advisor, Curator and Senior Dresser’) and, for many years, she has also been one of the Queen’s favourite fashion designers. 

THE QUEEN’S BARGEMASTER AND ROYAL WATERMEN When the Queen travels ceremonially along the Thames, she is accompanied by the Bargemaster (Paul Ludwig, in white stockings) and Royal Watermen. Here they stand at the Sovereign’s Entrance of the Palace of Westminster. Royal Waterman Robert Prentice is holding the Royal Standard which is flown there for the State Opening

THE QUEEN’S BLOODSTOCK ADVISER, RACEHORSE TRAINER AND RACING COLOURS The Queen’s Bloodstock Adviser, John Warren (far left), based at Highclere Stud, is standing next to Sir Michael Stoute, one of the Queen’s Trainers, who works at Newmarket. Champion jockey Ryan Moore is mounted and is wearing the Queen’s Racing Colours – a purple and scarlet jacket with gold braiding and a black cap

For this book, Julian photographed Angela Kelly with the Queen’s robes of the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Thistle.

The book also contains some of Julian Calder’s finest images of the Queen herself, including a delightful unseen shot from one of the most remarkable photo shoots of her reign. 

In 2012, he captured her in her Thistle robes beside the Gelder Burn on the Balmoral Estate to illustrate her role as Queen of Scots (one of the shots made an exclusive cover in Weekend magazine). 

The heavens were about to open, the midges were on the warpath and Julian admits he was a bag of nerves. However, from the warm smile on the Queen’s face, we can see how much she genuinely enjoyed it. 

Queen’s In Their Name by Julian Calder, £50. © Julian Calder. To order a copy for £40 (including UK postage and packing) go to juliancalderpublishing.com. This offer applies for a limited time only.

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