Angus Hamilton

15th Duke of Hamilton and Brandon

Sally & I attended the Memorial Service for Angus, the 15th Duke of Hamilton & Brandon, held at the Church of St Mary in Haddington, East Lothian on Saturday 31st July. There were more than 750 in the congregation. He died on 5th June at the age of 72. The Dukedom carries the title as Scotland’s Premier Earl and Keeper of Holyrood Palace.

Angus had been a Member of the Air Squadron since 1974. His flying career embraced a short service commission in the RAF where he flew Canberra’s, amongst others. With his engineering background, he developed as a Test Pilot and worked with Scottish Aviation at a time when they were developing and manufacturing the Bulldog. He owned the prototype Bulldog and flew it regularly until recently. The Order of Service carried a happy picture of Angus in his RAF uniform as an Honorary Air Commodore. A good contingent in light blue uniform was colourfully evident in the cathedral-like church. The Chief of Air Staff was represented by Air Vice-Marshal Jon Lamonte, Chief of Staff, Strategy, Policy & Plans. Young ATC cadets from No 297 (Musselburgh) Squadron provided a Guard of Honour.

The Service was conducted serenely by The Very Reverend John Cairns and The Reverend Jennifer Macrae. A comprehensive Eulogy was delivered by Group Captain Bob Kemp, a Scot who had known Angus and worked with him over many years within the RAF in Scotland. It was fulsome and apt and did not overlook Angus’s frailties. Alexander Hamilton, the 16th Duke, delivered a Reading in good style, historic and appropriate words by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The musical side of the service reflected Angus’s enduring interest in music. An American member of the family, George Hamilton IV, who proved to be an accomplished performer, sang ‘Forever Young’ with guitar. Tenor Elliott Goldie and baritone Peter Grant sang the famous duet from ‘The Pearl Fishers’ by Bizet. Soprano Michelle Grant sang O Mio Babbino Caro, the aria sung by Lauretta in Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi. The three soloists came together to sing Sir Arthur Sullivan’s ‘The Lost Chord’ After prayers and Benediction, Pipe Major Brian Donaldson led out the family as the Recessional playing the hauntingly beautiful melody ‘Highland Cathedral’. Kay, Duchess of Hamilton, showed exemplary grace and dignity throughout.

After the Service, the bells rang out with the help of members of the Haddington Society of Change Ringers. A Wake followed at the nearby Archerfield Links Club House where a veritable feast was laid on, attended by about 300. David Cyster flew his Tiger Moth in a splendid formation x 4 flypast involving several passes over the Clubhouse, just completed before the rain came down. Sally and I were able to have a good chat with Kay and conveyed the remembrances of Members of the Air Squadron.

Simon Ames
3rd August 2010