Changing the Guard, also known as Guard Mounting, takes place outside Buckingham Palace from 10.45am and lasts around 45 minutes, with the actual handover taking place at 11am. The Buckingham Palace Old Guard forms up in the palace’s forecourt from 10.30am and is joined by the St James’s Palace Old Guard at around 10.45am. The New Guard then arrives from Wellington Barracks and takes over the responsibilities of the Old Guard in a formal ceremony accompanied by music.
The guard that looks after Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard and is made up of soldiers on active duty from the Household Division’s Foot Guards. The guards are dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats.
The ceremony is free to watch and currently takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
ORIGINS OF CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Elite soldiers have guarded the King or Queen since the reign of Henry VII who made the Royal Body Guard a permanent institution which has spanned over 520 years of history.
Guards Regiments were formed to provide a personal bodyguard for the Sovereign with the first Guards raised in 1656 to protect the exiled King Charles II. Comprised of highly-trained officers and soldiers, they are among the oldest units of the British Army and have fought with great distinction in nearly every major conflict involving soldiers of the United Kingdom since the 17th century.
The Changing the Guard ceremony originally took place at the Palace of Whitehall which was the Sovereign’s official residence in London until 1689. When the Court moved to St James’s Palace, the ceremony took place there.
After Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace in 1837, The Queen’s Guard remained at St James’s Palace, with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace, as it still does today.
Today, the main ceremony is conducted at Buckingham Palace. The strength of the Guard is governed by The Queen’s presence. If the Royal Standard is flying above the Palace, The Queen is in residence and the number of sentries is increased.
THE CROWN JEWELLS
The Crown jewells are housed in The Tower of London, and have been kept there under lock and key for 600 years. They consist of several crowns, sceptres, plates, robes etc that have been owned by their respective sovereigns throughout British history.
They are guarded by The Yeomen of the Guard, commonly known as The Beefeaters. The Beefeater name was carried over to the Yeomen Warders, due to the two corps’ outward similarities and the Yeoman Warders’ more public presence.
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