"The Preobrajensky March"

The Preobrajensky Regiment was formed by Tsar Peter I 'the Great' of Russia (1672-1725) in the late 17th Century and soon distinguished itself in various military campaigns and in 1762 was declared the highest in military precedence.  Its membership was generally to young Russian aristocrats and considered proof of loyalty to the Tsar.  It is unclear who the composer of the regimental march was - although it is attributed to "Donajowsky", but soon became a patriotic song throughout Imperial Russia.  In 1882, Tsar Alexander III of Russia (1845-1894) appointed his brother Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich (1857-1905) to the post of Commander of the Regiment. In 1884, The Grand Duke married Princess Elizabeth of Hesse & By the Rhine (1864-1918), the daughter of Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse & By the Rhine (1837-1892) and Princess Alice (1843-1878), the second daughter of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) and therefore was uncle to Mountbatten.  Princess Elizabeth's younger sister - Princess Alexandra of Hesse & By the Rhine (1872-1918) married Tsar Nicholas II of Russia(1868-1918) in 1894.


The Massed Bands of HM Royal Marines

performing at Beating Retreat, Horse Guards Parade, London - June 2014

marking the 93rd Birthday of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh

(Captain-General of HM Royal Marines)

& the 350th Anniversary of the founding of HM Royal Marines

Tsar Nicholas II 'gave' the march to King Alfonso XIII of Spain (1886-1941) at the time of his marriage in 1906 to Mountbatten's cousin - Princess Victoria Eugénie of Battenberg (1887-1969). She was the only daughter (and second child) of Prince Henry of Battenberg (1858-1896) and The Princess Beatrice (1857-1944), the youngest child of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901).  In 1922, it was King Alfonso XIII who 'gave" the march to Mountbatten at the time of his wedding to Edwina, in honour of his Russian uncles - The Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Tsar Nicholas II.  From 1941, the march was played for Mountbatten, as a kind of personal honour by all the Naval bands under his command when he appeared at official functions.

In 1964 at the request of Mountbatten, Lt-Col. Sir Vivian Dunn (1908-1995), the Principal Director of Music of HM Royal Marines updated his 1934 arrangement of the march to commemorate the Tercentenary (300 yrs) of the founding of the Corps, which Mountbatten presented the score to the Corps' Captain-General (his nephew) - Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021). Dunn's arrangement was first performed at the Beating Retreat Ceremony at Horse Guards Parade, London on 10th June 1964 and was adopted as the official regimental slow march. Mountbatten personally inscribed the music score.  Mountbatten wrote to Dunn and said - "I think the 'Dunned Up' version of the Preobrajensky March is really excellent.  I was standing next to The Queen and Her Majesty thought it quite outstanding and most moving."  On 3rd August 1965, Mountbatten was appointed Life Colonel Commandant of HM Royal Marines.  

The march was used as the opening title music of the TV biography series "The Life And Times of Lord Mountbatten" and Mountbatten wrote to Dunn - "I hope this will popularise the Royal Marines bands as well as the music and the tune."

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia - Mountbatten's uncle ​


Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia

- Mountbatten's uncle

​ Lt-Col. Sir Vivian Dunn, Principal Director of Music, HM Royal Marines ​

Lt-Col. Sir Vivian Dunn,

Principal Director of Music, HM Royal Marines

"The Mountbatten March"

The Mountbatten march was composed by Lt-Col. Sir Vivian Dunn (1908-1995), the former Principal Director of Music of HM Royal Marines.  He retired to Haywards Heath, West Sussex in 1968 and received a letter from Mountbatten stating that a junior bandsman had contacted Mountbatten asking for permission to call his new march "Mountbatten" in his honour.

However, Dunn had apparently told Mountbatten some time ago that he had planned to compose a march in retirement with the intention of calling it "Mountbatten".  A year later Dunn sent a pianoforte score to Mountbatten at Broadlands. The march included snippets of "Rule Britannia", "A Life on the Ocean Wave" and of course "The Preobrajensky March"  and was first publicly performed at The Royal Tournament in 1971.



The Band of HM Royal Marines performing "The Mountbatten March"

"The Mountbatten Suite"

This unfinished composition was also by Lt-Col. Sir Vivian Dunn (1908-1995), the former Principal Director of Music of HM Royal Marines.  Dunn had started a suite for orchestra and concert band in 1979 in honour of Mountbatten, but Mountbatten's murder by the IRA on 27th August 1979 deeply affected him - he had lost not only a  mentor, but a close friend and ally. However Mountbatten's untimely death did spur Dunn on to complete the suite. 

In November 1979, the concert march "Man of Action", which Dunn planned to be the suite's third movement was completed.  By April 1980, Dunn had completed the second movement, a pastoral orchestral work entitled "Broadlands, the Serenity of an English Country House" which received its first public performance in 1982.  However, due to illness he was unable to complete the first movement - a prelude "Man of Destiny" and the final movement "Classiebawn Castle, For Whom the Bells Tolls For Thee".


In 2000, Dunn's son asked Robert Farnon (1917-2005) an established composer for film and television to try and complete the first movement "Man of Destiny". He sought permission from Mountbatten's daughter - Patricia, later 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma (1924-2017) and Lt-Col Richard Waterer (1950-2006), then Principal Director of Music of HM Royal Marines arranged for the score to be published.  "Man of Destiny" received its first public performance in October 2000.

Mountbatten - Life Colonel Commandant of HM Royal Marines at Broadlands


ABOVE: Mountbatten - Life Colonel Commandant

of HM Royal Marines at Broadlands

INSET: Lt-Col Richard Waterer,

Principal Director of Music, HM Royal Marines