Changing the Guard

Attractions, Parliament and civic buildings St James's Park Free
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Changing the Guard
© UK MOD Crown Copyright 2011

The Changing of the Guard is about as British as gulping down a cup of tea or tucking into fish and chips. And like most things in the UK, it can be called off by inclement weather...

On average, it takes place four times a week at Buckingham Palace. In sum, a bunch of very smartly dressed chaps in busbies - tall bear-skin hats - hand over the responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace to a different set of smartly dressed chaps, usually made up of one of the five regiments of the Foot Guards from the Household Division.

Although that may sound slightly quirky, there’s nothing informal about this ceremony. Taking place at 11.30am sharp, the immaculately turned out guards perform precision drills accompanied by overtures from a Regimental Band or Corps of Drums.

As one of London’s most popular free attractions, it’s a pleasure to watch The Queen’s Guard perform their duties. All of the Guardsmen are in fact highly trained infantry soldiers, who in addition to their ceremonial responsibilities take up combat roles. 

If you want to get a good look on a fine day, be aware that you might need to be in place at Buckingham Palace no later than 10.30am as it can get rather crowded. Dates and times are subject to change so do check the official site before you visit.

Posted:

Venue name: Changing the Guard
Address: Buckingham Palace
London
SW1A 1AA
Opening hours: 11.30am daily Apr-July; on alternate days Aug-Mar. Not in very bad weather or on certain ceremonial days so always check the schedule before making a special trip.
Transport: Tube: St James's Park
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Anaelle
Tastemaker

This pompous display of decorum is an absolute must-see for anyone – whether you’re a UK citizen or an oversea tourist, you’ll love seeing this traditional institution being carried out. It’s a bit strange, but definitely unique and quintessentially British. And with Victoria Monument and Buckingham Palace as background, it’s an iconic bit of London, definitely worth a little detour.


There are always a lot of tourists around and the roundabout gets really busy with cars and taxis roaming round, so you might feel a bit overwhelmed… If you’d rather have a quieter experience, I’d recommend you trek to Windsor castle and observe the changing of the guard there. It’s less hectic, slightly more folkloric (with the music band marching along rather than in front of a neighbouring building) and easily accessible (as opposed to being held in Buckingham closed courtyard). But, mind you, this one is the real London experience!

Tom
moderatorStaff Writer

It doesn't get much more British than this. And whilst the tourists will rightly lap this sort of traditional pomp and ceremony up for hours, I'm convinced even the hardy locals can't resist stopping for a 5 minute peak at the changing of the guard - possibly hoping that they'll be there to see a guard faint, or start to do a bout of moonwalking between sentry posts. The self discipline the guards show whilst being photographed and treated like specimens in a zoo is quite remarkable; just try standing totally still for half an hour, it's painful stuff at the best of times without hordes of people watching your every non-move.

Maria Blazevich

This is efficient and informative page! I'm ecstatic to see London.never been and hope it I s ad lovely ad you reprt.Good job! Thanks! FROM USA

leslie

can't wait going to london this december and in new year! for sure going to visit this place and changing the guards

Kate Rushton

Nothing is more quintessentially British than changing of the guards. When I was a little kid, I used to love watching this on a Sunday. Now I am older, it brings back fond memories. Best of all - it is FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!1