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'Proud moment' Irish harpist said she had a 'newfound respect' for the Queen and Prince Philip after performing for them

Siobhán Armstrong said that playing the harp for the royals was a proud moment for her as she was representing the history of her instrument.

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Siobhán Armstrong plays for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 2011. Photo: PA

Siobhán Armstrong plays for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 2011. Photo: PA

Siobhán Armstrong plays for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 2011. Photo: PA

An Irish harpist who played for the Queen and Prince Philip has revealed that she didn’t know that she would be performing for the royals until moments before she went on stage.

Siobhán Armstrong founded the Historical Harp Society of Ireland in 2002 and works as a freelance performer and teacher.

The Dublin-born harp player has performed as a soloist on Hollywood film soundtracks and gigs at the world's biggest traditional music festivals as well as for the British monarchs during their state visit in 2011.

She spoke on Dublin’s Q102 Breakfast Show about the part she played in the historic royal visit to Ireland, where she performed for the Queen and Prince Philip at an exclusive concert in the Long Room in Trinity College’s Old Library.

She said of the experience: “It was quite fun actually because they didn’t tell me who I was playing for.

"Trinity College in Dublin is my old alma mater where I went to college and they rang me up and said, ‘We’ve got a very special guest coming soon and we’d like you to come and play your copy of the Trinity College harp, the Brian Boru harp’

“But they didn’t tell me who, and I knew that the Queen was coming and I knew that Obama was coming so I didn’t really know which one it was going to be. Then at the last minute, they tell you which visit you’re actually going in for.”

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Siobhán Armstrong

Siobhán Armstrong

Siobhán Armstrong

The harpist admitted that she “wasn’t that nervous” when she found out who her audience was and described the royal visitors as “polite.”

She continued: “They either were interested or looked interested as they went around, and when you realise how elderly they were even on that visit, like they were still doing a full day’s work.

“You have to respect what they’re actually managing to do each day. So, I found that quite impressive actually.

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“I have to say I had a newfound respect for them that day when you see what they have to do.

"They’re completely professional about it. They had to meet and greet 120 people and that was just one thing on one of the days of that visit.”

Siobhán added that playing the harp for the royals was a proud moment for her as she was representing the history of her instrument.

“It was an amazing day for Ireland. It was an amazing visit, the whole visit was historic and amazing,” she told listeners.

“It’s not really the person you’re playing for, it’s what you represent. I was playing representing 800 years of Irish harping so I’d play that for anybody. I’m just so proud of that tradition.

“Everyone was joking that I was the only person who was sitting down for the entire Queen’s visit while she was standing up so that was quite funny,” she laughed.

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