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changing of the guard (buckingham palace and horse guards)

Buckingham Palace

Where: The Mall, SW1

What: The changing of the guard at buckingham palace takes place every morning at 11:30 (alternate days in winter), weather permitting.

The changing of the guard ceremony takes place on the forecourt of buckingham palace and lasts about 40 minutes. It is carried out by one of the five regiments of Foot Guards, marching from wellington barracks (on birdcage walk) with a guards band, and resplendent in scarlet tunics and black bearskins (in wet weather the band does not accompany the guards).

The new guard marches to the palace with the band, the old guard hands over in a ceremony during which the sentries are changed and then the old guard returns to barracks. The new guard then marches on to st james's palace leaving the detachment at buckingham palace.

And, for the rest of the day, you'll find yourself singing 'Their changing of the guard at buckingham palace, Christopher Robin went there with Alice, with Alice'!

Nearest underground station: Victoria or Green Park

Opening times: Changing of the guard at buckingham palace takes place daily at 11:30 (alternate days in winter months) weather permitting.

Admission charges: none, but get there early to get your space at the railings, especially in the summer months.

Website: the-royal-collection.org.uk / royalresidences.com

Horse Guards

Where: Whitehall, SW1

What: The changing of the guard at horse guards palace takes place Monday - Saturday morning at 11:00, and 10:00 on a Sunday. In the summer it takes place on horse guards parade and in winter in the courtyard.

Horse Guards is the official entrance to buckingham palace. The only access to st james's and buckingham palace before 1841 was through horse guards (the mall was closed at both ends until the opening of trafalgar square that year). The guards protect the queen and the palace, and as such, there are two types of guard. A long guard consisting of 17 men is mounted when the queen is resident in london, otherwise a short guard made up of 12 men is mounted.

The ceremony is carried out by one of the two regiments of household cavalry, either the 'blues and royals' (royal horse guards and 1st dragoons) with blue tunics and red plumed helmets, or the 'life guards' in scarlet (traditional breastplates are worn by both regiments).

At the time of guard changing, the old guard forms up on the north side and the new guard on the south side. If it is a long guard, as the new guard arrives, each guard carries the standard and the trumpeters of both old and new guards sound the royal salute. When both guards have formed up in the enclosure, the corporal major, senior nco and the sentries of the first relief of the new guard leave for the guard room which is then handed over. The sentries of the old guard, after being relieved, rejoin the remainder of the old guard on the north side of the enclosure.

The ceremony lasts about half an hour, but there a frequent, smaller changes throughout the day. The mounted sentries change every hour, and then at 4pm there is a dismounted parade of the guard. Then there are two dismounted sentries on duty until the gates are shut at 8pm, when only one sentry is left on guard until 7am. Only those in possession of the password, can gain admission to horse guards after the gates have been closed.

Nearest underground station: Charing Cross

Opening times: Changing of the guard at horse guards takes place daily at 11:00 monday - saturday and 10:00 sunday.

Admission charges: none



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