Post Date: Saturday 16th November 2013
Author: Matt Gedge
The two hours wizz by, and aside from my historical – and obviously incredibly entertaining – commentary, we are all enthralled by the dazzling display of colour and music as we march through Royal London.
Unfortunately, many tourists are not aware or indifferent to guided tours and so decide to experience the Guard Change by finding a place outside the gates of Buckingham Palace an hour before the ceremony (or two hours in the summer), and simply wait. If you happen to observe their expressions or overhear their comments you’ll realise that a large number of these people go away from the event disappointed.
I hadn’t experienced the ceremony like this since I was a child, so to have empathy with what the ceremony is like outside of a guided tour, I decided to take a day off, wrap up warm and take my camera over to join the crowds at Buckingham Palace.
As time ticked by, the crowds swelled. The wind had started to whip up, feeling quite bitter. I put my scarf on. After an hour or so, the Old Guard assembled on far side of the courtyard of Buckingham Palace for an inspection. As the crowd pushed forward, I tried to squeeze my head through the bars to get a better view but couldn’t see much.
By this point I was really feeling the biting cold. Standing still for an hour and a half isn’t much fun. And any warmth created by the huddle of tourists was being countered by the discomfort in my back and legs as I was squashed against the railings. The Indian couple left. More people surged into their vacated position.
Once the New Guard entered the courtyard of Buckingham Palace finally I had a good view of proceedings. As the band ceased playing, we witnessed lots of shuffling of feet, indecipherable shouts to attention and marching around, most of which must have been utterly confusing for the casual spectator.
Ten minutes later some of the New Guard exited (the First Relief), and we were left observing the Old Guard facing the New Guard, motionless, for about twenty five minutes.
Through this experience I can understand why many Londoners give the ceremony a wide birth; it takes a lot of convincing to encourage someone who lives here to appreciate that the Guard Change is something which really can be fun and entertaining.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should come along on my Changing the Guard Tour!