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

At 11am (10am on Sundays) the St James Palace detachment of the Old Guard forms up in Friary Court before marching off via Stable Yard Gate and along The Mall to join up with the rest of the Old Guard waiting in the forecourt at Buckingham Palace. At 11.30am (10.30am Sun) the New Guard, led by their Regimental Band and Corps of Drums, marches into the Palace Forecourt, having left the barracks in Birdcage Walk a few minutes earlier (they form up there from about 11am, 10am Sun). After a symbolic handing-over of the Palace keys, the posting of sentries and other military formalities, the Old Guard departs for the barracks in Birdcage Walk and the St James Palace detachment of the New Guard marches off along The Mall to take up their posts. From August 1 to March a 48-hour guard takes place (to find out whether it's currently on odd or even dates visit the Army website).


Venue name: Changing the Guard
Address: Buckingham Palace
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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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!

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


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