The changing of the Guard is one of the most celebrated and popular attractions in all of Britain. The pomp and splendor of the regal display pays homage to the long history of the English Monarchy. Although the Changing of the Guard Buckingham Palace may seem purely a spectacle for onlookers, the ceremony (and in a larger context the Queen’s Guard) has practical purposes, namely the defense of the Queen and members of the Royal Family.
The Queen’s Guard is comprised of infantry and cavalry soldiers whose duty it is to guard the royal residences in the city of London. This means that the Queen’s Guard is mounted at Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London (the location of some of the Crown Jewels), St. James Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Changing of the Guard Buckingham Palace became too popular of a tourist attraction to continue to allow the soldiers to perform their ceremony outside the actual gates of the palace. When an unfortunate incident involving a pestering tourist and a fed-up soldier put an infantryman in jail for ten days, it was decided that the Changing of the Guard should take place behind the high gates.
It is easy to get confused about just when the Changing of the Guard takes place. This is most easily explained by the fact that there are in fact two separate ceremonies, the Changing of the Guard Buckingham Palace ceremony, and the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard at Horse Guards Parade. The ceremony at Buckingham Palace takes place every morning during the summer months at 11:30. Throughout the remainder of the year the ceremony is held every other day at 11:30 a.m.
The Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards, a palatial building on the site of the old Whitehall Palace and directly north of the Houses of Parliament, is the place to see the mounted regimen perform the impressive Changing of the Guard ceremony. The Changing of the Guard of the mounted regiment takes place every day at 11 a.m. and on Sundays at 10 a.m. This is a fantastic free attraction in London. The entire ceremony takes around a half hour and is an impressive sight to see. Perhpas it is not quite as well known as the Changing of the Guard Buckingham Palace ceremony, but remains a highly popular attraction in its own right.
When you spend a day in this central part of London you can easily walk to some of the most popular attractions including Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye. There are a plethora of options when it comes to places to stop for a meal or a drink. Countless restaurants, bars, and cafes line the streets of Westminster as well as nearby Covent Garden and Soho. There are many options, from stopping by some of the many designer boutiques or expansive bookstores to simply taking a stroll through one of the Royal Parks. Start at the opulent Houses of Parliament and head north through St. James Park until you reach Horse Guards for the ceremony of the mounted regiment.