Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland performing at the King’s coronation have said it has been hard to find the time to practice during a “seriously busy few months” of combat training and exercises.
Four servicemen will join a full band of 100 soldiers on Saturday as part of the pomp and pageantry in London.
Drummer and Fusilier Declan Tytler, 26, from Penicuik in Midlothian, and piper Lance Corporal Ryan Steele, 29, from Auchenheath in South Lanarkshire, have spent the last few weeks learning and rehearsing new music to be performed at the historic occasion.
But the soldiers said practice has not been on their minds much amid an intensive programme of combat training and exercises over the last few months.
Fusilier Tytler said: “Yes we perform at ceremonial events, but most of the time we’re either training, out on deployment, or jumping into whatever mission or military aid we’re needed for. And when this is the case, drumming just isn’t on the mind.
“I think it can be easy for the public to forget the other things we do when we aren’t on their screens.”
“The lead up to the coronation is certainly nothing like the ceremony and pageantry that you’ll see on the day,” he said.
“In fact, it’s a pretty quick transition from being in armoured vehicles and walking around in full 30kg kit in sweltering heat to being polished and presentable, stood in front of our new King.”
Both men, who also performed at the Queen’s funeral last year, have recently returned from a military training exercise in Oman where they spent three months developing their core skills in challenging temperatures and terrain.
While the pressure is on to keep their steps in line, their day jobs have not stopped either.
They recently engaged in a Nato readiness test with the Canadian Army, undertaking hundreds of hours of training across a vast area with challenging terrain, weather and obstacles, including mine fields and enemy camps.
Pte Thomson said it had been “gruelling”, adding: “There’s very little time for a break and you never know what’s coming round the corner at any point.
“We set up tents and slept outside in the hours we could manage, but with the low March temperatures and the next test always around the corner, you’re in a perpetual state of being on red alert.”
L/Cpl McAllister said: “Finding time to practice for the coronation has had to fit in around a seriously busy few months full of exercises and our wider combat training regime.
“But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I joined the Army for the challenge and the opportunities it brings, and getting to step into these events that will be marked in the history books forever is definitely a bonus.
“It’s something I never thought I’d be doing when I signed up.”