I had some pretty high grade Christmas crackers this year, and instead of some tosh gags and a plastic piece of shit, there were some nail clippers and good hard facts. One of these factual gems of info was that the Sultan of Oman has the world’s only camel mounted pipe band. In all honesty, I only did this article because I wanted to write – ‘camel mounted bagpipe band’, and I am enjoying the thought of you lot out there all saying those words in your head. There’s just something pleasant about the way it sounds don’t you think? And the tropical vibes are easing my frosty fingers as I type this twaddle, sat in my room trying to delay putting the heating on, even though my right hand is pretty much blue.
Their official name is the Royal Cavalry Mounted band, and they are the only one like it in the world. The Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al Said (pictured below), also loves the Queen and plays the lute. He is a despot, and as such, probably a bit of a dick. He’s a generous dick though, and when the Queen visited in 2011 he bought her a one foot tall, 21-carat gold engraved vase and a Faberge-style egg containing a musical carousel of horses. Not lazer horses though, cheap skate.
Although the camel mounted pipe band are a majestic looking bunch, according to some reports it’s a different story when they smile. Nearly every man has gappy teeth due to the beasts between their thighs lurching unexpectedly beneath them. Now there’s dedication to your art. That was true until 2008, when Kilmarnock based pipe manufacturers McCallum Bagipes received a surprising letter from the Sultan asking them to design some pipe tubes with some flex in them to avoid uglying up his pipers. Whether the request was for the sake of the piper’s mouths or the Sultan’s pride we will never know, but apparently they are working a treat. Another Scottish pipe band: “Red Hot Chilli Pipers” who play rock songs on their pipes (which sounds terrible) and jump about a bit, have also purchased a few. A revolution in piping, all thanks to the humble camel.
The only video of these elusive musicians that I could find is in this BBC news clip from 1986 about Princess Diana and Prince Charlie boy visiting Oman. Forward it in to 1:25 if you can’t wait to see the camel guys. If I were you though, I would watch the bit where Prince Charles breaks his stirrup strap playing Polo and sits in the dirt, you won’t see that sort of behaviour from him again in a hurry: