It’s a procession that has taken place since 1837, when Queen Victoria moved from St James’s Palace to Buckingham Palace, and a detachment of the Queen’s Guard would march from their position guarding St James’s Palace to Buckingham Palace.
Pomp, ceremony, horses, drums… what’s not to love about the daily spectacle of Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
These days there are the guards from St James’s Palace as well as those from Wellington Barracks who change guard each day – which means there are two different routes, and lots of places from which to observe the procession, even if you don’t want to get into the crowd that crams on to Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. The Old and New Guard from the St James’s Palace detachment marches down the Mall, while the Old and New Guard from the Wellington Barracks detachment marches along Birdcage Walk. All in all, the procession takes about an hour, and all traffic is called to a halt in between the various processions…
Crib Notes There are five foot guard regiments. The easiest way to tell them apart is by the colour of the plume on their bearskin hat, but if you have sharp enough eyes, you can also tell by looking for the spacing of the buttons on their tunics.
• Grenadier Guards, who have a white plume on the left and evenly spaced tunic buttons
• Coldstream Guards, who have a red plume on the right of their hat, and tunic buttons grouped in twos
• Scots Guards, who have no plume and tunic buttons grouped in threes
• Irish Guards, who have a blue plume on the right of their hat and tunic buttons grouped in fours
• Welsh Guard, who have a white and green plume on the left of their hat and tunic buttons grouped in fives
Top Tip If you want a position atop the Victoria Memorial directly in front of Buckingham Palace, be sure to arrive early – at least 45 minutes before the start of the processions, or you will have to manage children on your shoulders for the entire procession. However, there are plenty of other alternatives for watching the various parades up close.
At Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Walk the first of the processions starts at 10.30 and the marching from 11.00 until 11.30 (with the New Guard forming and marching to Buckingham Palace).
At St James’s Palace the parade runs from 11.00 to 11.20 (with the Corps of Drums arriving from Wellington Barracks, then the Old Guard forming and marching with the Corps of Drums up the Mall to Buckingham Palace).
And of course, Buckingham Palace between 11.30 and 12.10 (with the actual Changing of the Guard ceremony taking place and the Regimental Band performing).
Even as late as 12.30, the Corps of Drums will make their final march of the day back to Wellington Barracks.
Best App Changing The Guard App
While You’re Here… If you have toddlers and preschoolers, stop by the St James’s Park playground located at the Buckingham Palace end of the park.