Changing of the Guard, London, UK

The mother of all Changing of the Guard ceremonies takes place outside the Royal residence in London, England, but what few people realize is that it also takes place outside Windsor Palace and at the Horse Guard Parade Whitehall.

changing of the guard

Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guard

The ceremony outside Buckingham Palace is also called the Guard Mounting (no jokes please). The schedule for Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace can be rather confusing as it is daily from May to July and the rest of the year some months it is on “even” days (i.e. the 2nd, 4th, 6th of the month) and in other months it is on odd days (1st, 3rd, 5th etc). The best bet is to check out the Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guard website before you go. You could see a number of guard uniforms as the guards are drawn from five different regiments: Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards as well as Grenadier Guards and Coldstream Guards. When the Queen is at home there are four guards at the gates and when she is out there are two. The ceremony is accompanied by a band.

During very wet weather the Changing of the Guard ceremony does not take place but if there are last minute changes to the schedule they are posted on the Buckingham Palace Facebook page (yes even Buckingham Palace has Facebook!). there is also an app for Changing of the Guard!

When:

DAYS OF CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Check the Dates&Times page of the Buckingham Palace site for exact schedules which are published towards the end of each month for the following month. The ceremony is daily May to July and either on odd or even days of the month the rest of the year. For example August 2014 the Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace will be on odd days and in September 2014 on even days.

TIME OF CHANGING OF THE GUARD:

11:15 Guards and a band start arriving at the palace.

11:30 Official start of ceremony

12:00 End of ceremony

Where: Front entrance of Buckingham Palace. I recommend standing on the left hand side of the palace entrance if you are standing facing the palace.

 

Windsor Castle

Not as famous and perhaps not as impressive is the Windsor Castle ceremony. It is performed by the resident regiment of Foot Guards from the Household Division and they wear those stunning red tunics and bearskin hats. The ceremony is accompanied by a band. To see the actual ceremony you will have to have bought a ticket to the castle as it takes place inside the castle grounds. The guards march along a route through the town to get to the ceremony site and you may watch them along the way.

When:

DAYS OF CHANGING OF THE GUARD: April to July daily except Sundays and the rest of the year on odd or even days. No ceremony takes place on Sundays.

 TIME OF CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Guards leave the Victoria Barracks at 10:45 and march to the castle where the ceremony occurs at 11:00 (the official site states 11:00 on one page and 11:30 on another).

Where:

The guards leave the Victoria Barracks march up Sheet Street, turn left into High Street, right into Castle Hill and into the castle. The ceremony takes place inside the Windsor Castle quadrangle and then the “old” guard returns along the same route through town.

Horse Guards’ Arch

You could go just up the road from Buckingham Palace to the Horse Guards Parade Whitehall (Horse Guards’ Arch). Here there is a daily Changing of the Guard so it would be easier to schedule into your travel itinerary. Whereas you will have to time your visit to see the ceremony outside the palace according to the weird schedule they keep during most of the year. The Horse Guards’ Parade is where the troops are presented to the Queen during the Trooping of the Color.  The ceremony takes about 30 minutes.

When:

TIME OF CHANGING OF THE GUARD: 11:00 daily and 10:00 on Sundays

Where:

East of St. James Park at the Trafalgar Square end of the park. (to the left of Buckingham Palace if you are standing looking at the palace gates) on the Horse Guards’ Parade in Whitehall.

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