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College Boatman plays at HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Funeral
Rachel Bampton

Crown Copyright 2021

Mr David Cox, who is Boatman at Pangbourne College, was among the 42-piece Royal Air Force Band which played at the funeral of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday 17 April.

Mr Cox is no stranger to this role having spent his whole Forces career in RAF Music Services performing on the clarinet and saxophone. He regularly performs in the marching band on College Sundays and also performed when HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited the College in May 2017.

‘Being a part of a 126 piece band (the band at the funeral represented all of the services) is always fabulous,’ he said. ‘The sound was so rich in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle. On this historical occasion, it was such a real privilege and honour to be one of the 700 military personnel involved.’

Now a Reservist in the Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, Mr Cox says he was chosen because musicians were selected according to the instrumental balance and availability. But Mr Cox’s experience of such important occasions are many, so perhaps it is not so surprising. In 2002 he was in the RAF Band which escorted the funeral cortege of The Queen Mother. 

In 2013, he was in the band outside St Clement Danes’s Church in The Strand for former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. In 2011, he played in the band at HRH The Prince William’s wedding. He has also played for Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, where he says the cucumber sandwiches are exquisite!

But The Duke’s funeral was different, he said. It was a far more intimate occasion than the other state events in which he has been involved. The selection of music also helped to set the mood for a very fitting tribute to a person of national and international significance. 

‘Along with the Scots Guards Band and the Royal Marines Band, we rehearsed the music from the Tuesday of the same week of the funeral,’ he said. ‘We stayed in barracks at Pirbright for the week and rehearsed the whole parade element about five times on the Wednesday. We then travelled to Windsor for a full dress rehearsal to the exact timings on the Thursday.’ 

The whole parade was a scaled down version of the pre-Covid plan for the funeral. All the musicians observed a three-pace dressing in order to adhere to social distancing rules and they were all kept isolated in the barracks and Laterally-Flow Tested at least 5 times during the period.

The RAF Band for the funeral had representatives from all four RAF Bands (the Central Band of the RAF, the Band of the RAF Regiment, the Band of the RAF College Cranwell, and the Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force). Mr Cox concludes, ‘It was an excellent example of the Royal Air Force's Whole Force Strategy, and was, no doubt, what The Duke would have wanted.’

Here is some video footage showing the music of The Duke's funeral, including an image of the quadrangle of Windsor Castle. David Cox can been spotted in the crowd from 0:01 to 0:07 and 3:32 to 3:48 -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH5scjkSZCM&feature=youtu.be 

David Cox's position is pointed out in the below image.

Crown Copyright 2021