If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never really given much thought to the changing of the guards in London. The ceremony—a 6.5-mile walk down the Mall, an hour-long ceremony where members of the British Royal Family (or “Her Majesty’s Armed Forces”) parade around the palace to the cheers of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who line the route—seems like it’s always there. But did you know that this year, for the first time in two centuries, the ceremony will not be taking place at Buckingham Palace, but instead at Horse Guards Parade, just south of Buckingham Palace?
The Changing of the Guard ceremony in London is a great way to see the changing of the guard from Buckingham Palace. The ceremony is a truly impressive display of ceremonial pomp and is the only occasion where the Queen is not present. Although there are many tourists who come to watch the Changing of the Guard, it is a spectacular sight and is well worth the effort to see.
The Changing of the Guard is an important part of the ceremony, and the crowd is always big and enthusiastic. But it is not the only event of the day. There will be a parade of military equipment, and a few other key elements such as the Royal Air Force flypast.
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The Changing of the Guard event is one of London’s most renowned and recognizable sights. You’ll be pleased to learn that you can see the changing of the guard in London from a variety of locations, each offering a distinct viewpoint.
Do you have any questions about what to anticipate and how to best prepare? We have all the details you need to choose the finest viewing position for the Changing of the Guard in London, as well as some helpful hints to make your experience one to remember!
The Changing of the Guard in London has a long history.
When a group of troops presently guarding Buckingham Palace is replaced by a new set of soldiers, the Changing of the Guard occurs. The origins of this ceremonial ritual may be traced back to the 17th century.
The ritual started in 1660, after King Charles II’s return to the throne. At the moment, the General chose to celebrate his king with a military parade.
For almost three centuries, the custom was carried on by a succession of Kings and Queens.
In 1960, it was abolished by General Denton who believed it to be unnecessary pomp & circumstance and then was reinstated by his successor Lord Wilson.
Guards still wear traditional crimson tunics and black bearskin caps, as they did decades ago.
Where can I observe the Guard Changing?
Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, and Wellington Barracks are the three sites in London where the public may watch the event for free.
You may also view it at Windsor Castle, but you’ll need a ticket to see it in its entirety.
Currently, you can see the ceremony from August to May on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays & in the summer months of June and July, daily.
You’ll want to pay careful attention to the schedule while arranging your journey to witness the Changing of the Guard.
Schedule for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony
- At 10:43 a.m., the Old Guard departs from St James’s Palace.
- New Guard departs Wellington Barracks at 10:57 a.m.
- Official Start Time: 11:00 a.m.
- St James’s Palace relief departs Buckingham Palace at 11:10 a.m.
- 11:25 Sentinels depart St James’s Palace, relieved.
- Buckingham Palace’s Old Guard departs around 11:40 a.m.
- St James’s Palace, 11:45 Buckingham Palace is guarded no more.
The Best Places in London to See the Changing of the Guard
St. James’s Palace is one of my favorite locations to watch the Changing of the Guard in London. It’s more personal, plus it has one of the finest views!
The Mall, which runs between Marlborough Road and Buckingham Palace, will provide you a good view of the Guards moving by, but you won’t be able to witness the changing of the guard.
The New Guard will be forming up and being inspected at Wellington Barracks. You’ll also be able to see the Regimental Band as they prepare to march to Buckingham Palace.
Because of the elevated viewpoint, the Victoria Memorial stairs enable you to watch the Guards and Band as well as see the ceremony on the forecourt.
Buckingham Palace railings is the most popular, but also the most congested, location to see the changing of the guard. You’ll need to come almost an hour and a half before the event starts if you want to grab the finest position!
While you are welcome to attend any of the Changing of the Guard locations on your own, a small group tour may be more appealing. Small group excursions provide you access to a tour guide who can explain the history and point out things that you may miss otherwise.
BEST Small Group Walking Tour of the Changing of the Guard
Observing the Changing of the Guard
- Arrive early to the Changing of the Guard site! This isn’t something you can simply turn up to a few minutes before it starts. To obtain the greatest view, people queue up up to an hour ahead of time.
- Wear a hat & sunscreen. While it isn’t always sunny in London, if you find yourself there on a sunny day, you are going to want some reprieve from the sun.
- Keep a watch on your prized possessions. Pickpockets thrive in large crowds. It offers a plethora of diversions! If you’re carrying a purse or bag, make sure it’s in front of you rather than behind or to the side of your body.
- Consider taking a trip that incorporates the experience of the Changing of the Guard. These tours are cheap and provide valuable information on the event and what to look out for while watching it.
If you happen to be in London, don’t miss one of the most famous events in British history! While it will take up a significant portion of your morning in London, it is worthwhile to visit to see something so entrenched in history.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony is such a British tradition that Queen Elizabeth even made a speech about it two years ago. The ceremony is held every Saturday at 9:30am and has been celebrated for more than 300 years.. Read more about changing of the guard windsor and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is changing of the guard London?
Changing of the guard London is a military ceremony that takes place in front of Buckingham Palace.
How often is the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace?
The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is every hour on the hour.
Is the changing of the guard free?
The changing of the guard is free.
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