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London for Ceremonial
Musicians of the Household Division

Musicians of the Household Division

The Band of the Coldstream Guards

Band of the Coldstream Guards marching down The Mall for the 
Guard of Honour for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, April 2018

The Coldstream Guards were formed in 1650. It is the oldest regiment in the British Army by continuous succession. The first Colonel was George Monck, a General in Oliver Cromwell’s “New Model Army”. In 1661, shortly after the restoration of the monarchy, they were re-commissioned by King Charles II as Household Troops and Monck was made a Knight of the Garter; the Garter Star forms the basis of the modern cap star.

The band can trace its roots back to a Royal Warrant issued by King Charles II on 3rd January 1685 authorising a small musical ensemble in the King’s Regiment of Foot Guards in London. These musicians were hired by the month by Officers of the Regiment to provide music for the Changing of the Guard at St. James’s Palace.

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”. This was too much for the officers who asked The Duke of York, Colonel of the Regiment, for a regular attested band. He agreed and from Hanover in Germany sent twelve musicians under the direction of Music Major CF Eley. The instrumentation consisted of two oboes, four clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, one trumpet and a Serpent. The date of the band’s formation was May 16th, 1785. 

The Band of the Coldstream Guards is one of the oldest and best known military bands in the world. During its long and distinguished existence, the band has achieved a worldwide reputation for excellence. One of the most tragic events in the band’s history occurred when the Guards Chapel was bombed on the 18th of June 1944. The band was performing in the weekly Sunday morning service and devastatingly six musicians in the band, including its Director of Music, were killed and also 120 members of the congregation.

Since 1945 the band have performed worldwide, including tours to North America, Europe, Japan and Australia. In 1960 the band went to North America for a three-month coast to coast tour, this was the first of what became a regular ten yearly event. The band went again in 1970, 1981 and 1991. In 1994 the band achieved international acclaim when it performed in the Olympic stadium in Sarajevo during the Balkans conflict. More recently the band has travelled to Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France. Within the last 20 years, concert tours to Asia have become a consistent feature in the band’s diary, often taking place every 2 to 3 years. The most recent of these was a ground-breaking tour of The Republic of South Korea, Japan and China. The band has performed in some of the world’s best and most prestigious concert halls. 

For those wishing to know more about the Band of the Coldstream Guards, John Gleeson, a prominent military music historian, has published a book titled ‘Pomp and Circumstance. The Band of the Coldstream Guards, A History 1685 – 2017.

Click here to find out more about the band



19th September 2020  | 9th March 2022 | 13th April 2022 


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