The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Tuesday 25th April 2006 - Queen's birthday celebrations - incidental or illegal?

Last Friday, 21 April 06, the Queen went on a walkabout in the streets of Windsor as part of her 80th birthday celebrations. The bands of the Welsh and Irish Guards performed live music by way of accompaniment.

A spokesperson for the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, which covers the area including Windsor Castle, confirmed today that no premises licence was in force for the event. They also claimed that the bands' performances were covered by the 'incidental music' exemption: ' In this case, visitors were not there to hear the band play and if there had been no band at all, there would have been just as many visitors at the event.'

However, the statutory Guidance to the Licensing Act, issued by DCMS, suggests that 'volume' is the key factor for local authorities in deciding whether the incidental music exemption should apply. 'Common sense dictates that live or recorded music played at volumes which predominate over other activities at a venue could rarely be regarded as incidental to those activities.' ['Guidance issued under s.182 of the Licensing Act 2003', para 5.18. Note also that 'premises' in the Act is defined as 'any place' and this includes open spaces.]

The music was captured by the BBC. When the bands play, the volume does seem much louder than anything else going on. When pressed on what 'rare' circumstances led the council apparently to disregard the high volume of the marching bands, the council declined to comment further.

Link to BBC coverage:

Hamish Birchall