Changing of The King's Guard

The Changing of The King's Guard is one of London's most popular tourist attractions it takes place in front of Buckingham Palace at 10:45 am and it lasts about 45 minutes.

TravelCurious Tip

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there. With the London traffic and the event's popularity, you will want a good spot to avoid missing a thing. The kids will also love this one!

A serious spectacle

The Changing of the King's Guard at Buckingham Palace, formally known as Guard Mounting, is a tradition going back to the beginning of the 17th century. It is an elaborately choreographed military ceremony in which troops of the King's personal guard march out, accompanied by a traditional band, and exchange posts as well as the palace keys with a royal degree of pomp and formality.

While the King or Queen has always had their own troops, a household guard has only protected the sovereign and their palaces since the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 under Charles II. This was deemed necessary after the brief revolution of Cromwell saw Charles’ predecessor and father King Charles I deposed and killed.

When Queen Victoria made Buckingham Palace her London residence in 1837 she took a detachment of the Guard with her for protection and left the remainder to guard St. James’s Palace in Westminster - still the oldest palace of the monarchy, though it is no longer the primary residence.

Out with the old?

The Changing of the Guard takes place at 11.15 am every day in summer and every second day in winter. Two detachments of the ‘Old Guard’ form into tight groups at St. James’s and at Buckingham Palace. After a thorough inspection, the ‘Old Guard’ at St. James’s and the ‘New Guard’ which forms at Wellington Square with the band march out towards the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, regimental banners flying.

Both groups present their arms and then the commanders solemnly exchange the palace keys. Today, the Changing of the Guard ceremony appears to be a piece of military theatre; a spectacle for the crowds of tourists outside the palace gates. The Guard Band even depart from traditional music sometimes and play contemporary pop songs. Yet the King's Guard performs the ceremony with a deep sense of pride, exerting the same focus and precision each day, and sees it as an honour to keep this tradition alive.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in London
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence for HM Queen Elizabeth II and it's one of London’s most popular attractions.
St James's Palace
The official home of the sovereign of the United Kingdom, built in Tudor red brick.
St James's Park
A green oasis in royal London that is host to numerous ceremonies - and has a lake complete with pelicans.
St Ermin's Hotel
The St. Ermin's hotel is a converted grade-II listed Victorian mansion block and legendary landmark in British spy history in the city of Westminster.
Lancaster House
Opened in 1840, this grade 1 listed building has been perfectly designed to suit any occasion... from meetings to dinners and entertainment.
Clarence House
Clarence House is a British royal residence on The Mall in the City of Westminster, London. It is attached to St James's Palace and shares the palace's garden.

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