A Royal Marine from Dundee who was decorated by the Duke of Edinburgh will lead the buglers performing at Saturday’s funeral.
Sergeant Bugler Jamie Ritchie is one of four Royal Marines buglers who will sound both the Last Post and Action Stations during the service at St George’s Chapel.
The 31-year-old Scotsman, who has served in the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines for 15 years, has performed extensively around the globe with the world-famous military musicians, including on numerous occasions for the Duke of Edinburgh in his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines, such as Beating Retreat on Horse Guards Parade.
As well as regular musical performances – he’s currently in charge of the Corps of Drums at the band at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines in Lympstone, near Exeter – Jamie also completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick; in war, it is the task of musicians to act as ambulance drivers, stretcher-bearers and provide assistance to medical teams.
On his return from Afghanistan in 2013, he received his Herrick medal from Prince Phillip alongside fellow Royal Marines. “He congratulated me on my work and took great interest in my role as a Royal Marines bugler,” said Jamie.
“Even though he was a man of few words, the great thing about Prince Philip is how relatable he made you feel. He made you feel calm and welcome in his presence.”
Throughout his career, the bugler has proudly worn The Prince’s Badge, introduced in 1978 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s appointment as Captain General Royal Marines – and the Band Service’s 75th birthday.
The badge is presented to the best all round musician or bugler at the Royal Marines School of Music – provided they have attained the necessary standard – and is worn by the recipient throughout their careers, irrespective of the rank they hold.
With band performances severely curtailed over the past 12 months by the pandemic, Jamie has worked hard to keep his team motivated and has been heavily involved in delivering Lateral Flow Testing for all ranks and civilians at Lympstone.
This will ensure the establishment continued to operate and provide freshly-trained Royal Marine Commandos (officers and ranks) to front-line units.
Having personally performed as a solo bugler at many Service and ceremonial funerals, as well as more than 20 vigils for comrades killed in action on Operation Herrick 17 in Afghanistan Jamie has spent the past week with three fellow buglers practising for the funeral.
The Last Post is a staple of military funerals and services of remembrance, while the Action Stations bugle call features in the ceremony at the specific request of the Duke of Edinburgh; historically, Royal Marines would call their shipmates to action when the enemy was sighted, with a distinct call broadcast around a warship.
“We know the Last Post inside out – but it is a little different when four people play it. So we’ve been making sure we are ‘dialled in’ to each other right down to the millisecond,” Jamie added.
“I know I will always look back on this as such an honour and privilege. Prince Philip was our Captain General for over 64 years and a highly-respected member of the Royal Family with a strong Royal Navy heritage.”