Music has always been great propaganda, but over the centuries Britain’s royalty have turned it into an art form.

Lie back and think of England… and chances are the soundtrack will come courtesy of Handel, Elgar, Parry and their ilk. It’s very possible the music will have a royal connection too, either written for or intimately linked with a “Royal Event”. The current residents of Buckingham Palace are not noted for their intense musicality, so just how did this relationship between music and monarchy come about?

Medieval Monarchs…
Musically backward in coming forward

Despite a genealogy going back to Alfred the Great (871- 899), it was a slow and modest start for Britain’s royals. Successful propaganda needs to reach its target audience and in the medieval period that audience was hard to define and even harder to gather together for mass messaging. The monarchy tended not to commission works but instead relied on the established church to promote the royal interest as part of the general message of suffering and salvation.

There were one or two notably musical monarchs in the first centuries of the last millennium. Richard the Lionheart has left us some pretty respectable compositions, and he...

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