Alastair Bruce of Crionaich

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Alastair Bruce of Crionaich
Alastair Bruce of Crionaich.jpg
Bruce in 2006, at the annual service of the Order of the Garter
Born (1960-06-25) 25 June 1960 (age 57)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1979–present
Rank Brigadier
Battles/wars Falklands War
Awards Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Knight of the Order of St John
South Atlantic Medal with Rosette
Other work Fitzalan Pursuivant Extraordinary

Alastair Andrew Bernard Reibey Bruce of Crionaich, KStJ OBE VR (born 25 June 1960), is the Royal, Religious and National Events Commentator for Sky News, the 24-hour television news service operated by Sky Television, part of British Sky Broadcasting. He has also worked for the BBC, and is an historical advisor for several feature films and the ITV series Downton Abbey.[1] He serves as one of the royal heralds at the College of Arms, and has held the position Fitzalan Pursuivant since 1998.

Bruce has commentated on most major national events in the United Kingdom, including the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the Royal Wedding in 2011, the Papal Visit in 2010, and the funerals of the Princess of Wales and the Queen Mother in 1997 and 2002 respectively. He is a godfather to Viscount Severn, the son of Prince Edward.

Early life and education[edit]

Bruce was born on 25 June 1960, the son of Lieutenant-Commander Henry Victor Bruce of Salloch and Helen Vernon Wallop William-Powlett. He is the youngest of four siblings, his sisters being Robina Helen and Lucinda Jane Bruce, and his brother Peveril John Bruce of Salloch, younger.[2] He was brought up in Hampshire in south-east England, but spent much of his childhood in Sutherland, in the far north of the Scottish Highlands,[3] where his parents owned the Sallachy Estate near the village of Lairg.[4]

Bruce was educated at Milton Abbey School, a boarding independent school for boys (now co-educational), in the village of Milton Abbas in Dorset, followed by the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in Berkshire.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Bruce joined the British Army in 1979. In 1980, he gained the rank of Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion[4] of the Scots Guards.[2] He was a regular soldier for four years, and saw active service in the Falklands War of 1982. The following year, he erected a cairn at Sallachy in Sutherland, in memory of his orderly during the War, Guardsman James Reynolds, from the village of Bridge of Weir in Renfrewshire, who had died while bringing back a wounded comrade, who survived. Reynolds died at the age of 19 at Tumbledown Mountain, and at the time was the only soldier to be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal posthumously. At the time, Alastair Bruce said: "On returning to Britain after the Falklands, I decided I wanted to do something in honour of Jim Reynolds. He was such a brave young man who was well liked by everyone".[4]

Bruce is still a reserve officer, serving as a Territorial Army Colonel responsible for Reservists in London.[5] From 1983–1989, he was Assistant Vice-President with Merrill Lynch,[2] is a current director of Tilden Court Residents Association and until 2012, was on the Council of Milton Abbey School.[6]

In 1984, Bruce was recognised in the name of Bruce of Crionaich by Lord Lyon King of Arms. The Queen appointed him as one of her heralds on 7 October 1998 as Fitzalan Pursuivant,[7] and he has been a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen's ceremonial bodyguard in Scotland, since 1990.[5] In 1991, he was made an officer of the Order of St John.[8] In 1997, he was promoted to commander.[9]

In 2004, Bruce took command of a reserve unit, the Media Operations Group, which handles the media representation of military activity. In the same year, he completed his period of mobilised service on active operations in Iraq, serving in Operation TELIC.[5] He also became a Colonel in the Territorial Army and is the Equerry to Prince Edward.[1] In 2008, Bruce was promoted to knight of the Order of St John,[10] and in 2010, he was appointed an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his services to the Territorial Army.[4][11]

Bruce has worked as an historical adviser to Oscar-winning films such as The King's Speech (2010) and The Young Victoria (2009), and of the first and second series of the BAFTA-winning television series Downton Abbey (2010–2015), in which he was careful to provide historical accuracy as far as possible, while pointing out that he was always aware of the need not to slow down the story unduly and that as an historical adviser, he was always mindful of the second word of his title, meaning that he could suggest, but not demand, the correct changes to be made. To ensure the greatest degree of accuracy, he also advised on the minutiae of early 20th century protocol, in such subjects as dress, posture, the serving of food and even on matters that might initially appear trivial, such as the use of vocabulary or the correct way to walk out of a car.[1][3]

Bruce has written many books, and worked with several independent production companies in the preparation of television documentaries which are regularly aired on the BBC, America's PBS network, Discovery Channel and A&E channels. Among these are Nicholas and Alexandra, Victoria and Albert (2001) and Days of Majesty.[5]

Bruce has lectured widely in Britain, Europe and the United States. His subjects range from the last Tsars of Russia to Britain's monarchy and the Vatican in Rome. In 2011, he was appointed Honorary Professor of Media by the University of Winchester.[5]


  • Days of Majesty, (co-authored with Simon Welfare); Macmillan Publications, London (1993)
  • Keepers of the Kingdom: The Ancient Offices of Britain (co-authored with Mark Cator and Julian Calder); Cassell Illustrated Publications, London (1999)
  • The Oldest: In Celebration of Britain's Living History (co-authored with Julian Calder); Cassell Publications, London (2005)
  • The Butler's Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces (foreword by Alastair Bruce and written by Stanley Ager and Fiona St. Aubyn); Biteback Publications, London (2012)


  1. ^ a b c How Downton minds its manners Publisher: The Daily Telegraph. Published: 16 September 2011. Retrieved: 17 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Alastair Andrew Bernard Reibey Bruce of Crionaich Publisher: The Peerage.Com. Published: 1 January 2009. Retrieved: 29 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Interview: Alastair Bruce – Lord of the Manners Publisher: The Scotsman newspaper. Published: 31 October 2011. Retrieved: 29 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d North campaigners honoured Publisher: The Northern Times. Published: 17 June 2010. Retrieved: 29 March 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e Biographies – Alastair Bruce Publisher: Sky News Press Office. Retrieved: 7 October 2015.
  6. ^ Alastair Andrew Bernard Reibey Bruce Of Crionach Publisher: Retrieved: 29 March 2013.
  7. ^ "No. 55291". The London Gazette. 26 October 1998. p. 11553. 
  8. ^ "No. 52590". The London Gazette. 1 July 1991. p. 10030. 
  9. ^ "No. 54940". The London Gazette. 6 November 1997. p. 12485. 
  10. ^ "No. 58905". The London Gazette. 8 December 2008. p. 19119. 
  11. ^ "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 5. 

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