horses

Changing the Queen’s Life Guard

Author: Matt Gedge
Post Date: Thursday 14th March 2013

Changing the Queen’s Life Guard

At 11am Monday to Saturday and 10am Sundays, a glorious ceremony takes place on Horse Guards Parade. Resplendent in their uniforms, the Queen’s Life Guard and Blues & Royals go through the daily rituals of a ceremony which has its roots in the 17th century.

At the other end of the Mall tens of thousands of tourists jostle for position to see the top of a bearskin, but those tourists who have dared to be different are rewarded with a sight every bit as colourful and historic, but in a setting which is beyond surpass.

As a tour guide I am always struck by the magnificence of the occasion. But what really makes my heart skip a beat is the opportunity to get within touching distance of the horses as they go by. Tourists seem genuinely amazed as to how close they are to the action, but many seem totally perplexed as to what is going on or why it is happening.

While the two regiments face each other, I give the group insights into the guards, horses and uniforms while evoking images of the pageantry this parade ground has witnessed throughout the centuries.

Look at the detail of the uniforms and buildings, and they reveal incredible stories of a truly remarkable history – of a King who hid in an oak tree, of a Duke who carried a crust of bread and hard-boiled egg onto the battle field, and the supposed origins of the ‘Punishment Parade’.

So although visitors to London are understandably keen to see the Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, I would absolutely recommend avoiding the crowds and taking a couple of hours to come on an Essential London Tour!

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