When the new guard shows up to take over from the old guard a regimental band entertains, playing everything from military marches to pop songs.
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the Queen, and was first opened to the public in 1993.
The Changing of the Guard has the serious and important function of protecting the Queen. There are always guardsmen on the forecourt of the palace and when the new guard shows up to take over from the old guard it is a real ceremony. with a regimental band playing everything from rousing military marches to pop songs.
Buckingham Palace was built in 1703 as a private home for the Duke of Buckingham. It is the Queen’s official and main London home and has been the official London residence of Britain’s monarchy since 1837 when Queen Victoria became the first monarch to live there. Today, the Palace is the Queen’s official London residence. It was opened to the public in 1993 and is often described as the most famous palace in the world.
What is the Changing of the Guard?
Essentially, the Changing of the Guard is the process of a new guard taking over the shift from the old guard. Their job is to protect the monarch and this also includes protecting them during the night as well as the day, when they patrol the grounds of the Palace and also those of those of nearby St. James’s Palace. It’s easy to find out if the Queen is in residence: when she is at home there are four sentries at the front of the building. When she is away there are two.
The Guards at Buckingham Palace
The Guard which mounts at Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard which usually consists of Foot Guards in their full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins. These soldiers are some of the best in the British Army and, should they be required for operational duties, they will be whipped away to do their real job – that of protecting the country. In May 1998, Canadian soldiers from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry mounted guard at Buckingham Palace for the first time since the Coronation in 1953.
The responsibility of guarding the Sovereign by the Household Troops (as they were known at the time) dates back to the time of Henry VII (1485-1509).
How to See the Changing of the Guard
The changing of the guards takes place in the courtyard of Buckingham palace, it is free to watch and lasts approximately 45 minutes. It usually occurs at 11:30 a.m. each morning during the summer period. In winter it is performed on alternative days, weather permitting.
To get the best out of the occasion get there early and try for a good position. To get he best view, stand as near as you can to the railings at the Victoria Monument.
If you have ever wondered whether or not the famous bearskin helmets the guards wear really are bearskin – yes, they are. They are made from the Canadian black bear and stand eighteen inches tall. If you would like to see how you look in one of these fabulous hats, go to the Guard’s Museum where you can try one on. The museum can be found within 500 metres of Buckingham Palace down Birdcage Walk, right opposite The Guards Chapel.