Major General Buster Howes appointed as new Chief Executive of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

May 12 2020

As Britain starts to plan for the future, so too does The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Today, Tuesday 12 May, the Board of Directors announce the appointment of Major General Buster Howes as the new Chief Executive. This follows last year’s notification that Brigadier David Allfrey would relinquish the role in 2020.

Buster, who will become the charity’s first Royal Marines CEO, has served as a Non-Executive Director with the Tattoo since September 2015. He brings a wealth of business knowledge, as well as unrivalled experience from a distinguished military career.

Buster’s last military appointment was as Head of the British Defence Staff in the USA, working to the Obama administration.  Prior to that, he Commanded the Royal Marines.  He was subsequently the Chief Executive of Here be Dragons, a commercial-philanthropic hybrid, dedicated to the conservation and sustainable development of the Island of Principe, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Gulf of Guinea.  Most recently, he advised the NHS, helping them to enhance organisational and individual resilience through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Buster takes up the Chief Executive’s role in June, leading the Tattoo into its eighth decade and at a time of enormous change and, therefore, opportunity.  The Tattoo will embrace the chance to adapt and evolve to remain one of the world’s leading public events. 

Brigadier Allfrey has held the appointment for nearly a decade. He has been instrumental in developing the Tattoo from a celebrated annual event in Edinburgh into a world-class spectacular, which celebrates, at scale, the very best of Scottish and military culture and music, with the power to unite peoples from across the world.   The Tattoo attracts an audience of 220,000 to Edinburgh Castle and global television viewing figures of 100 million annually.  During his tenure, the Tattoo expanded its footprint to host shows in Australia and New Zealand while planning shows in China and North America.  At the same time, the Tattoo has significantly developed as a group of companies, contributing over £70 million to the UK economy and £1 million to Armed Forces charities and the Arts, each year.

Peter Lederer, Chairman of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, says: “David has been a strong business and creative lead for the past ten years; setting demanding objectives and challenges, transforming the organisation into a truly global brand. His creativity will always be legendary and, although he will be missed greatly by the whole team, we are delighted to welcome Buster into his new role.

“I have no doubt Buster will provide the vision and leadership needed to further develop the work the Tattoo does, supporting the team through what is an unprecedented time in the tourism and entertainment industries. He brings with him an exceptional resume of experience, both within the military and as an experienced and successful Chief Executive.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating David’s contribution to the Tattoo, Edinburgh and Scotland when we’re able, but for now we want to thank him for his immense legacy and for all that he has done for the Tattoo.”

Brigadier David Allfrey says: “These last few months have given me a chance to reflect on the magic that is The Royal Edinburgh Tattoo. Over the years, I have been hugely privileged to have travelled the world and work with a host of talented people across such a wide sphere.   The Tattoo is remarkable - unique even - at bringing people together in a fabulous place, to share a sense of occasion, learn a little bit about each other and form friendships that endure.”

“We are so fortunate to have secured Buster as our next CEO.  He will bring vision, intellect, a broad view, and a fabulous skill set to our business and charity.  As one of our Directors, he has recognised and encouraged the ambitions we have set for the brand, the plans for the Show, and our continued engagement across the world.  As Chief Executive, he will lead the Tattoo into wonderful new realms.”.

Major General Buster Howes said of his appointment: “It is an honour to be appointed as Chief Executive of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an organisation I have been a part of for five years and one which I have admired since I was a wee boy. I have worked alongside David throughout my time as a Non-Executive Director and have witnessed first-hand, his commitment, creativity and transformation of the Tattoo.

“I’m very much looking forward to taking the reins and I am delighted to be asked to lead a team of talented and dedicated professionals. I have lived and worked in Scotland both as a ‘Bootneck’ and civilian, and I am delighted to embrace and evolve this important part of the country’s heritage.”

Buster Howes will officially take over the position of Chief Executive of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on 15 June 2020.