Sir William McKie

The ashes of Sir William McKie and his wife Phyllis are buried in the west cloister of Westminster Abbey. The stone was designed by Sir William's relative Jim Howden and the inscription reads:

Sir William Neil McKie M.V.O. Organist and Master of the Choristers 1941-1963. Born in Melbourne Australia 1901 Died in Ottawa Canada 1984. Also Phyllis his wife died 1983.

His parents were the Reverend William McKie and Mary (Doyle) and he was educated in Melbourne and at the Royal College of Music in London. He had a brother John (assistant bishop at Coventry) and sister Mollie. He served as an assistant organist at St Bartholomew the Great and was organ scholar at Worcester College and later organist at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was appointed to the Abbey in 1941 and took up his post in 1946 after returning from war service in the RAF Volunteer Reserve. The Abbey Choir School was re-opened in 1947 which included some boys from the wartime choir. In the same year he arranged the music for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip and composed his motet "We wait for thy loving kindness, O God" for the ceremony. He was director of music for the 1953 coronation and was knighted that year. He married Phyllis (nee Ross) in 1956 but they had no children. He arranged the music for Princess Margaret's wedding in 1960 and retired in 1963. He died in Ottawa on 1st December 1984. He left his house at Groombridge in Kent to the Abbey but this was later sold to provide funds for the Choir School.

His files were deposited in the Abbey archives.

Further reading

"The best of both worlds, A life of Sir William McKie" by Howard Hollis, 1990

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

"Organist with 'the grand manner'" in Westminster Abbey Chorister, Winter 2013


1st December 1984


Musician; composer


Cloisters; West Cloister

Memorial Type


Sir William McKie
Sir William Mckie

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Sir William McKie
Sir William and Phyllis McKie grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster