'I do miss the job but Prince Charles writes, so there is still a link'
Prince Charles had been less than a foot away, listening intently. Claire Jones, though, had felt more exhilarated than over-awed.
The musician, who appears in Beverley this week, can well remember her audition for the position of official harpist to the Prince Of Wales.
She was put forward for the role in 2007, while still studying at the Royal College Of Music.
"When it was the day of the audition at the Royal College, Prince Charles stood about a foot away from the harp," said Claire, who had dreamt of securing the position.
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"It was pretty intimate and one of the most memorable moments of my life.
"I think everyone else was quite nervous for me – I was just determined to play well."
The harpist, who grew up in West Wales, spent four years in the role – during which she played 180 times, including a private performance for the Queen.
But the most high-profile event was also her last engagement, a performance inside the Green Drawing Room in Buckingham Palace on the day of the 2011 Royal Wedding.
"There were a series of rooms open for the guests, so people were walking in and out during the reception," said Claire, who completed more than a 1,000 TV and radio interviews about her involvement in the days leading up to the wedding.
"At the end, Prince William and Kate came over to have a chat with me. They were so down to earth considering what they'd just been through."
The memory of that day is one the London harpist still holds dear, in a life that has been shaped by music.
By the time she was 14, Claire had achieved grade eight distinctions in the piano, violin and harp.
She decided to settle on the latter as her main instrument when she had heard the role of official harpist had been reinstated.
"I thought it was something I could do one day," she said.
Since her time in the role – something she has credited with launching her career – Claire has performed with companies including the English Chamber Orchestra, and the Philharmonic Orchestra.
Her performance at Toll Gavel United Church on Thursday, with flautist Kathryn Thomas, will include a duets and solo pieces, including works by Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Ravel and JS Bach.
But the most personal piece will be the premiere of a new arrangement of Heartstrings – a piece written by her husband, composer Chris Marshall.
Chris composed the piece as a solo work for harp to celebrate their engagement, which he has rearranged for harp and flute for this performance.
With an increasingly busy schedule performances this year include a tour with Manchester Camerata – Claire can look back on her Royal experiences with fondness.
"I do miss the job but on the other hand I felt it was time to go," said Claire. "Prince Charles still writes to me and I write back, so there will always be that link."