King Charles' extraordinary 15-minute morning routine is a Victorian ritual the late Queen enjoyed too

This week, the King started his day with this time-honored tradition for the first time in Clarence House, his London home

King Charles
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Everybody has certain quirks that set their mornings aside from the conventional, whether through a particular shower ritual or the unique way you take a coffee. For King Charles III, however, mornings begin in a way that is distinctly different from what you might expect. 

Every morning at 09:00 promptly, King Charles III is awoken by the sound of bagpipes – following a 179-year-old practice that began with Queen Victoria in 1843.

On the morning of October 24th, Pipe Major Paul Burns played for the first time at the Clarence House, the King's royal residence in London, but has played daily since his reign began last month.

He is the 17th piper to fulfil the duty and previously played for Queen Elizabeth before her death on September 8th, 2022.

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Pipe Major Burns (videoed above) follows the monarch around the royal residences, including Windsor Castle and Highgrove House – depending on where the King is spending the night. Every morning, he ensures he is awoken by a daily performance that consists of two seven-minute sessions – separated by a minute in between to tune the Scottish instrument.

While the piper (who is an official member of the member of the Royal Household) acts as the King's alarm clock each morning, his jobs continue throughout the day. The BBC reports that he is also responsible for greeting people at official engagements before they meet the monarch. He also reportedly holds quarters at Buckingham Palace but travels to wherever the monarch is based before fulfilling his daily role.

King Charles

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Pipe Major Burns also gained global admiration last month after reciting the lament Sleep, Dearie, Sleep as the late Queen's coffin left Westminster Abbey at the end of her funeral service. The piper is the only non-royal permitted to wear Balmoral tartan, as seen in the footage.

Despite the daily performance, it is unknown how frequently the sounds of the traditional instrument are responsible for waking the King from his sleep. In the years before becoming King, the then-Prince of Wales suggested he liked to begin his royal duties before 09:00 in a number of newspaper profiles. It is, therefore, likely that King Charles is already awake to hear this part of his morning routine. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.