The Changing of the Guard sits among the most iconic sights to be seen in London and witnessing it is something that all of us need to add to our bucket list. Here at the Changing of the Guard and Westminster Tour, we organise some of the best walking tours in London so that tourists and locals alike can witness the Changing of the Guard today, tomorrow, the day after that, and so on.
Despite being told that it’s something that everyone must experience, people are often left with many questions regarding the Changing of the Guard schedule and ceremony. It’s for this reason that we’ve taken it upon ourselves to put together this handy Changing of the Guard guide, so you know just what to expect. At £18 a ticket, the value of this tour can’t be questioned when considering the wealth of culture and tradition that you will experience during the tour. Read on to discover more about the Changing of the Guard.
What is the Changing of the Guard?
First and foremost, let’s discuss what exactly the Changing of the Guard is. The Changing of the Guard is a traditional ceremony in which the on-duty soldiers are discharged from their responsibilities and swapped with new Foot Soldiers. This is otherwise known as the exchange of the Old Guard for the New Guard. The tradition dates all the way back to 1485 when King Henry VII created the Royal Bodyguard as a permanent position.
The ceremony signifies the Old Guard handing over the duty of protection to the New Guard, which is also symbolised using a ceremonial set of palace keys. Officially, this is called the Guards Mounting Ceremony, which is administered by soldiers from the Foot Guards. These individuals are unmistakable, thanks to their bright red tunics and tall, black bearskin hats.
The Changing of the Guard takes on the role of a military procession, in which the Foot Guards perform various sets of marches whilst the Guards Bands play music.
Where is the Changing of the Guard?
Although it’s widely believed that the Changing of the Guard happens at Buckingham Palace alone, it actually takes place across three locations. These are Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, and Wellington Barracks.
When is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace?
For those wondering when the changing of the guard actually happens, it takes place from January to May and August to December, on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In June and July, the ceremony takes place on a daily basis.
What Time is the Changing of the Guard in London?
If you’re wondering about the changing of the guard times at Buckingham Palace, the ceremony starts at 11 am; however, we begin our Westminster and Changing of the Guard Tour at 10 am. This gives us ample time to explore Westminster and make sure we’re in a good spot to watch the changing of the guard. We will depart for the tour at 10 am sharp, so please ensure that you arrive at least 10 minutes before this time.
How Long Does the Changing of the Guard Take?
For those unsure about how long the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is, the ceremony itself takes around 45 minutes. Despite this, in order to truly experience Westminster in all its glory, our tours last around two hours.
The Changing of the Guard London Schedule
Listed below is the changing of the guard schedule:
10:30 am: The new guards are inspected at Wellington Barracks before departing for Buckingham Palace once the Regimental Colour arrives.
10:40 am: The old group of guards leave St James’s Palace and march to Buckingham Palace.
10:45 am: The guards from St James’s Palace arrive at Buckingham Palace and line up along the forecourt of the palace.
10:55 am: The new guards arrive at Buckingham Palace.
11 am: The old and new guards present their arms to one another and exchange the keys to Buckingham Palace.
11 am – 11:30 am: As the guards parade their regimental colours and are inspected by their Senior Captain, music plays. The director of music is informed by a duty drummer that the handover has been completed and the band reform at the Centre Gates.
11:35 am: The new guards march to their positions at Buckingham and St James’s Palace, and the old guards march to Wellington Barracks.
Book in for the Westminster and Changing of the Guard Tour
Whether you’re visiting London or you’re a resident of the city, you need to experience the Changing of the Guard at least once in your life. There’s no better way to witness the Changing of the Guard than by booking onto one of our tours. We know all the best routes to take in Westminster and the best spots to witness the ceremony. Book now to watch the changing of the guard today.