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A milestone in the project to make a new set of fanfare trumpets that will be used during high profile royal and state events this year, was reached on 14 March 2018.

North Yorkshire-based firm Richard Smith (M I) Ltd has been commissioned by the Ministry of Defence to produce 20 Smith-Watkins fanfare trumpets to be used for a number of royal and state occasions. The first set of five instruments being put through its paces by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry was a significant step forward toward completion of the order.


It coincides with the delivery of the official serial numbers for the new instruments by the Trumpet Major. Each instrument will be given a unique serial number, recognising each of the trumpet majors since the Queen’s coronation – five of the state fanfare trumpets are being completed before 31st March. 

Uniquely, these State fanfare trumpets bear the Royal Coat of Arms.  Similar instruments would have been played as early as the Middle Ages to herald the entrance of the Monarch or Emperor. With only a few playable notes they are traditionally used as signalling instruments to give ‘calls’ to the troops on land and at sea, and are now routinely played at events of great national significance such as the Trooping of the Colour, the State Opening of Parliament and the Festival of Remembrance.

The firm also make valved chromatic trumpets often known as ‘Coronation’ trumpets since they were designed and made by Boosey & Hawkes specifically for the Coronation of George VI in May 1937.  A grand total of 35 instruments (five sets of seven) made a memorable start to the Queen’s Jubilee Concert in 2012 and with every military band in the UK owning a set they are commonly used during large-scale events at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Westminster Abbey. Trumpeters can perform as part of a military band or accompanied by an organ or choir.

Richard Smith, Managing Director, Richard Smith (M I) Ltd explains:

"It’s the sound that people associate with all great state occasions, and it all starts right here in our North Yorkshire workshop. We carefully craft our trumpets by hand to ensure a sound fit for a king or queen. Our brass instruments are renowned among musicians due to their high-quality, traditional features and attention to detail. 

“Some of our proudest moments have involved seeing and hearing our fanfares being played on national television, including at William and Kate’s wedding and the London 2012 opening ceremony. We’re very excited about what the future might hold for this particular order which will be unique in bearing the Royal Coat of Arms.”

Smith Watkins instruments are highly regarded worldwide and are handmade to order. The firm has been making custom brass instruments since 1985 and Richard Smith has fine-tuned his design based on his PhD study of brass instrument acoustics.

In 2000, the Royal Marines and Royal Air Force commissioned Richard Smith to create a new range of high-quality, handcrafted fanfare trumpets. All fanfares played for the Royal Family have used Smith-Watkins instruments ever since. They are used across the globe including in the Americas, the Middle East and Australasia.

With a choice of bores, bells and lead pipes, the company can offer upwards of 500 acoustically different combinations for its professional trumpets. The Professor of Trumpet at the Royal Academy of Music has been playing Smith-Watkins instruments for more than two decades and the Hallé Orchestra and John Wilson Orchestras both have Smith-Watkins trumpet sections.

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