No visit to London would be complete without experiencing first hand one of the most quintessentially British attractions – Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Though Buckingham Palace is one of the main tourist attractions in London and well worth a visit to see its impressive state rooms and centuries of history, you don’t need to book onto a tour to immerse yourself in all things royal. The Changing the Guard ceremony is one of London’s most famous acts of pageantry and it draws in big crowds by combining tradition, history and royalty. It’s free to attend.
Here’s everything a first timer needs to know about Changing the Guard:
What Is Changing the Guard?
Changing the Guard refers to the official ceremony where the guards outside Buckingham Palace change from one regiment to another. The guards are responsible for protecting the royal residence and there is an official protocol for when one group changes to another. It is one of London’s most popular attractions and it showcases the history and tradition surrounding London and The Royal Family.
What Does The Ceremony Entail?
The Changing the Guard ceremony is extremely regimented and strict, with the exact same ceremony happening each and every time. Those that are already on duty are referred to as The Queen’s Guard, and these consist of the St. James’ Palace and Buckingham Palace detachments. The new regiments march to Buckingham Palace from Wellington Barracks and become The Queen’s Guard.
Where Is Changing The Guard?
Changing the Guard takes place at Buckingham Palace and can be watched by spectators through the palace gates. Buckingham Palace is a short journey from the Grand Hotel Hyde Park and is free to watch. It is recommended that spectators arrive with plenty of time to spare as the event is usually very busy and having a good spot to stand will improve the chances of getting a good view. To see Changing the Guard when staying at the Grand Hotel Hyde Park walk to Buckingham Palace directly or make use of public transport.
When Does The Changing the Guard Happen?
Changing the Guard happens every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday between January and March as long as the weather is okay. During the other months there are also Saturday ceremonies, as well as other daily ceremonies during the summer. Changing the Guards starts at 11am and lasts for around 45 minutes.
There is an official website and calendar for Changing the Guard which can be found here. This details the regiments and bands on duty on any given day. It’s worth checking the calendar before you set off to Buckingham Palace.
When staying at the Grand Hotel Hyde Park, be sure to take advantage of all the free events and activities London has to offer. Changing the Guards is just one of the great things to see and do in the city without a cost.