Changing the Guard

If you’re planning a trip to London this summer, plan on seeing Changing the Guard–one of Buckingham Palace’s most time-honored traditions.

Each time I’ve been to the ceremony, I arrive early to secure a spot close to the main gate in front of Buckingham Palace.

Since summer is the most crowded time of year with tourists, I prefer seeing the ceremony in the autumn or winter/spring. London does get hot days during the summer months.

There are several areas to stand but I think the main gate is an optimal viewing spot to see all of the pop and pageantry.

Equine crowd control duties…

The crowds can get intense and takes some of the fun out of the ceremony. It’s for this reason that I like the dead of winter best. When I took these photos, it was late June, and after an hour I left. It was too hot and too crowded.

Up close and personal…

Behind the gate, the Buckingham Palace Old Guard forms in the palace’s forecourt at 10:30. Official start time is 11:00 and lasts 45 minutes. If you want a good spot, arrive at 9:30. To see the whole ceremony, you’ll be standing around two hours.

The crowd started inching forward and the horse effectively pushed them back.

The guards are dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats.

Changing the Guard schedules can change so be sure to double check the night before. It can also be cancelled in wet weather. It’s free and a must-see at least once in your lifetime.

To confirm Changing the Guard schedule, visit The Household Division.

Nearest Tube Stations:

Victoria, ST James’s Park & Green Park

Don’t forget to bring a water bottle.



3 thoughts on “Changing the Guard

  1. We were there to see the event in 1994. We too, arrived early enough to get in the front row but the crowd was so big that we were jostled around so much that it wasn’t very enjoyable!

  2. I hate to ask this.

    But where do they get those “bear skin” hats? I hope they are vintage and handed down and that no new or very few new hats are needed. Because if they’re made of bear skin….

  3. Just got back from London yesterday, and have been many times and I always suggest the changing of the guard ceremony in Windsor at the castle. It is not nearly as crowded and still has all the pageantry as the Buckingham palace ceremony. Love both, but if you want less crowds in a wonderfully charming village with a glorious castle Windsor may be for you.

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