Last Updated on December 13, 2022
Changing of The Gaurd or Guard Mounting is an iconic ceremony held at Buckingham Palace in London. This is when the senior Guard at the palace switches duty with the new Guard. People in millions flock to watch London’s most popular ceremony where the old guards are relieved of their duties by a new batch of soldiers.
A military parade is performed where the military band plays everything from traditional to pop music. The ceremony showcases the relationship between the Armed Forces and Her Majesty. Watching the Changing of The Guard is delightful. However, one struggle attendees face is to catch the full view of the proceedings.
If you are going to attend this ceremony, you need to know the timings and where to stand to see everything clearly. This article will guide you meticulously throughout the ceremony details; how to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Keep reading!
#1. Origins Of Changing Of The Guard
Since the reign of Henry VII of England, spanning over 520 years of English history, the Royal Bodyguard has been made a permanent institution. Guard Regiments were formed to protect the Sovereign. These Regiments have elite soldiers guarding the King or the Queen.
The first Changing of the Guard ceremony took place at the Sovereign’s original residence – Palace of Whitehall.
After 1689, the ceremony was held at St James’s Palace when the Court was moved there. In 1837, Queen Victoria moved to Buckingham Palace. Since then, the Queen’s Guard remained at St James’s Palace with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace.
Today, the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty, the Queen, governs the Guards.
#2. When Does The Changing Of The Guard Take Place?
You need to know the schedule of the Changing of The Guard ceremony before attending it. The procession often changes at the last minute due to disruptions and other events.
The schedule of the Changing of The Guard also depends on the season. From August to May, the event takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The ceremony is held seven days a week in June and July.
Officially, the Guard Changing at Buckingham Palace takes place at 11:00 am. For this, the Guards start the march from the Royal Barracks and St James’s Palace at 10:30 am on the scheduled day. The Changing of The Guard is usually not held in bad weather.
You can check the websites The House Division and Changing Guard beforehand to know more about the event. If the Queen’s Guard is standing outside the guard boxes at Buckingham Palace, the ceremony is likely to take place. If the Guards are inside the box, then chances are that the Changing of the Guard will not happen.
#3. The Best Time To See The Changing Of The Guard At Buckingham Palace
The best time to see the Changing of the Guards depends on the time of the year and the season. During summers, the ceremony starts early at 9:30 am. You need to rush to the spot earlier, to get a good view of the Guards at the Palace.
Summer in London usually lasts from May to August. There will be a huge competition for the viewing spot. So, better plant yourself at the Palace an hour earlier.
Winter’s off-season. During this time, being to Buckingham Palace 15-30 minutes before would be enough to catch a good view.
#4. The Soldiers of Buckingham Palace
Since 1660, the Household Troops have guarded the Royal Palaces. The soldiers are active-duty personnel of the British Army. These soldiers are hired from the British Army’s Foot Guards.
The five regiments from where soldiers are recruited include The Irish Guards, The Grenadier Guards, The Scots Guards, The Welsh Guards, and the Coldstream Guards. Guards duty is assigned by battalions of Household Division and infantry.
Queen Victoria has the finest soldiers in the army. The Queen’s Guard consists of two Detachments—Buckingham Palace and St James Palace.
#5. Changing Of The Guard At Three Different Locations
Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at three different locations: Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, and Wellington Barracks. Before you make your way to Buckingham Palace to witness the Guard Change, start anywhere at these three locations to make the most of the event. The Guards at Buckingham Palace who are about to wind-up their Guard shift will assemble in the front courtyard of Buckingham Palace.
The detachment of soldiers ending their shift at St James’s Palace will assemble in the rear of the Palace at the Friary Court. These soldiers will move to Buckingham Palace for the ceremony. Visit the Changing of The Guard at Buckingham Palace at St James’s to capture great pictures and videos.
#6. Nearby Underground To Get To Reach The Changing Of The Guard
To get to St James’s Palace, you can get down at the nearest Underground Station, Green Park. Plan your arrival at St James’s Palace for 10:20 am so that you can freely stroll through the palace and explore.
Exit the Piccability South at the Green Park Station, head past Ritz Hotel, and go along St James’s Street to James’s Palace. At the palace, you will run into a large crowd. Make your way along the Friary Court. You can click good pictures at this place. However, don’t waste your time, and move on as you will encounter traffic at the Marlborough Road junction.
As the soldiers march their way to Buckingham Palace at 10:43 am, you can capture terrific footage of the parade from the vantage point. Besides from St James’s Park Station, you can board Victoria Underground Station.
However, you will need to take several regional train lines. You can also board St James Park Station or Hyde Park Station to Buckingham Palace, as there is no Buckingham Palace Underground Station.
#7. Other Ways To Get To Buckingham Palace To Watch The Changing Of The Guard
You can get on a train to the nearest mainline train station connecting to Buckingham Palace, London Victoria. From the station, the Palace is a 15-minutes walk. Bus numbers 11, 211, 239, C1 and C10 go through Buckingham Palace Rd.
We don’t recommend going to Buckingham Palace by car, as the area is congested and is not suited for parking.
#8. To See Best Views Of Changing The Guard – Don’t Follow The Crowd
If you follow the overwhelming crowd, you will get stuck and may miss the procession. Once the guards have started off to Buckingham Palace from St James’s Palace, make your way to The Mall in St James’s Park. Take the footbridge over the lake from where you can snap some amazing pics of the array of men marching in unison.
#9. Catch The Best Spot At Buckingham Palace To See Changing Of The Guard
Don’t dale your time on the bridge, or else you will lose sight of the march. Cross the bridge, take the road, cautiously move through the railings of Wellington Barracks. Past the Barracks, cross the road toward Buckingham Palace. Settle in a corner between the Barracks and Buckingham Palace.
Around 10:57 am, the Guards will be en route to the Buckingham Palace marching from the Wellington Barracks. You can get a good close-up of the parade and can capture the great moments of the ceremony.
#10. Watch The New Guard’s Arrival At Buckingham Palace
The New Guards arrive at Buckingham Palace’s courtyard. They halt and march toward the Old Guards. The New and Old Guards display their weapons and showcase mutual respect.
#11. The Old Guards Of Buckingham Palace Pass On The Responsibility
In the center of the forecourt, the old captain marches and touches the left hand of the new captain, symbolically handing over the responsibilities of the safety of the Palace to the New Guard.
Then, the officers from both Old and New Guards will assemble at the Guard Room to discuss the Royal movements for the coming day. The Old Guard hands over the ammunition to the new Guard. Duties are assigned to the sentries; each sentry will be on duty for a period of two hours.
#12. Band At Buckingham Palace
The band forms a circle and plays a selection of music to keep the visitors entertained at the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. The precision drill and the music deliver pomp and military. The Regimental Band provides the music support for the ceremony.
Troop Movement Timings (During/After Ceremony)
11:00 am is the official start time of the Changing of the Guard Ceremony. The retiring soldiers of St James’s Palace depart from Buckingham Palace.
At 11:25 am, the Old Guard, James’s Palace contingent, leaves the Palace. Around 11:37 am, the Old Guard of The Queen’s Life Guard rides to the Hyde Park Barracks.
At 11:40 am, the Old Guard leaves for Wellington Barracks from Buckingham Palace. After 5 minutes, at 11:45 am, the Queen’s Guard of the St James’s Palace Detachment leaves Buckingham Palace.
Later, the Queen’s Guard of the Buckingham Palace Detachment retires to the guardroom. The Changing of the Guard ceremony lasts for 45 minutes.
Location Map: Click on the link, changing-guard-map, to follow the location map of Changing of the Guard ceremony. You can view the troop movements and view routes.
Interesting Facts About Changing Of The Guard
- If the flag flown at Buckingham Palace is Royal Standard, it means the Queen is inside the Palace.
- The Guards of Buckingham Palace wear 18-inch-long hats.
- Each Guard Hat weighs 1.5 pounds.
- The Foot Guards don’t march around the people who get in their way.
- Guards are highly trained to deal with bothersome people.
- You can differentiate the Guards of the five Regiments by the color and placement of the plumes on their hats.
- The Guards wear red tunics in summers and muted grey during winters.
- The Foot Guards warn the people creating a nuisance by stomping ammo boot accompanied by a shout “stand back from the guard”.
- The sentry gives enough warnings to the nuisance makers. If the nuisance persists, they draw their weapons and position it in a ‘port arms’ – pointing at the person.
- The sentry detains the person if they don’t behave after all the warnings.
- Sentries are authorized to discharge their weapons upon facing assailants. Until now, no such situation has been recorded by sentries on public duties.
Best Spots To Watch Changing Of The Guard
Buckingham Palace is crowded, as the place is apt for watching the Changing of the Guard event. Plant yourself at the forecourt of Buckingham Palace by arriving early.
Also, you can watch the initial moments of the Changing of the Guard on the left facing Spur Road. You can have a good view of the New Guard and Band parading up Birdcage Walk.
Tips To Keep In Mind Before Attending Changing Of The Guard Ceremony
Check the schedule on the Changing of Guard website before attending the event, as it can be canceled following a disturbance. Arrive at the Palace early, to avoid dealing with the congestion.
Keep an eye on your belongings. Carry a water bottle, an umbrella, and a coat, as the weather is unpredictable and the ceremony will go on for 45 minutes.
Don’t stand in the way of the marching Guards of Buckingham Palace. Remember, always “make way for the Queen’s Guard”.
There is no admission ticket to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Watching Changing of the Guard or Guard Mounting is an iconic experience. Visitors call it “a once in a lifetime experience”. Bands, cavalry, troops marching in unison—everything about the ceremony is royal. As the event has a huge demand, one can make the most of this iconic ceremony with proper planning.
The above information will help you to plan your trip to see the Changing of the Guards. Also, check the website changing-guard.com beforehand. Lastly, the pomp and regality of the ceremony will win your heart and is worth the travel.