The changing of the guard is one of the most popular, most famous, must-see attractions in London. What's more, it's free. It's a taste of the pomp and ceremony of royalty and one of the most iconic attractions of the United Kingdom. Today it is a practice kept up for the tourists and a reminder of the now largely ceremonial monarchy that sits enthroned as it has done for many centuries. While the changing of the guard is at Buckingham Palace (which is in itself one of the prettiest locations in London), the iconic red-clad queen's guards with funny hats are to be found in other locations as well, like the Tower of London and Windsor Castle.

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About The British Monarch

  • Current Monarch: Queen Elizabeth II
  • Record: Longest Reigning Monarch In British History
  • The Queen's Age: 95
  • Date Ascended The Throne: 1952
  • Queen Of: Queen Elizabeth II Is More Than Queen Of The United Kingdom, She Is Also The Queen Of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, And Other Countries
  • Heir: The Prince Of Wales, Prince Charles

About The Guard

The guards are called the "Queen's Guard" (or the King's Guard if the monarch is a king). They are fully trained soldiers and full members of the army who are given the role at different times. Despite their uniforms, the guards are far from ceremonial and will act if there is a threat. They are not afraid to intervene against troublesome tourists. Their guns are the real thing and they are trained to use them. They are typically from the British Army's Household Division and made up of the Foot Guards and the Household Cavalry. Sometimes the Brigade of Gurkhas and Royal Marines mount the guard. The Royal Navy mounted the guard for the first time in 2017.

  • Places Protected By The Queen's Guard: Buckingham Palace, St. Jame's Palace, The Tower Of London, Windsor Castle, The Palace Of Holyroodhouse

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When in England and Scotland feel free to take as many pictures as one likes with the Queen's Guard. One can often stand next to them and have a picture taken. But do not touch them or get in their way while they are marching. One can't put flowers on them like Mr. Bean.

  • Cost: Viewing The Changing Of The Guard Is Free

The practice first started in 1660 and it is called "Guard Mounting". They are famous for their bearskin hats and red tunics. During the changing of the guard, they are accompanied by a full military band. The music played ranges from traditional marching songs to familiar pop songs. It is also to show the loyalty and close relationship between the Armed Forces and their Head of State - the Queen.

  • In Scotland: Edinburgh Castle Had The Changing Of The Guard Until 2002

When To See The Changing Of The Guard

The changing of the Guard changes and one should check the schedule of when one is visiting London.

  • August To May: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays
  • June And July: Daily

There are three locations to watch the Guard Mounting. Buckingham Palace (the most famous), St Jame's Palace, and Wellington Barracks.

the Changing of the Guard spans three locations, Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace, and Wellington Barracks normal timings according to Changing Of The Guard are:

  • 10:43: The Old Guard Leaves St James's Palace
  • 10:57: The New Guard Leaves Wellington Barracks
  • 11:00: Official Start Time
  • 11:10: St James's Palace Relief Leaves Buckingham Palace
  • 11:25: Relieved Sentries Leave St James's Palace
  • 11:40: Old Guard Leaves Buckingham Palace
  • 11:45: St James's Palace Guard Leaves Buckingham Palace

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Buckingham Palace

Originally called the Buckingham House, the palace was not built for the British monarchy, instead, it was built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. It was acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte. It only became the London residence of the reigning monarch in 1837 with the accession of Queen Victoria.

During World War Two it was hit by German bombs as part of the London blitz. Today the palace has some 775 rooms and the garden is the largest private garden in London.

While in London most of the Royal Palaces can be visited by tourists - including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Tickets to Buckingham Palace can be purchased here.

Other Locations With Similar Changing Of The Guard

The changing of the guard is not unique to the United Kingdom. It is also performed in many other countries with monarchies around the world including Sweden, Canada, Monaco, Denmark, and many others. There are also the changing of non-royal guards in more countries like Chile, India, and other countries where they take the form of the changing of the presidential guard or the like.

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