In honour of The Crown, this week’s Travel Thursday is all about the home of the Queen herself, Buckingham Palace. While you may sneak a peek inside if you happen to be visiting London during a few key weeks when the State Rooms are actually open, most of us are stuck on the outside. You could just wander about outside of the gates, but you will most likely go there to see the Changing of the Guard. Dependent on weather and where the Sovereign happens to be at the moment, you may have the chance to witness this staple of Royal life.
The Changing of the Guard is a ceremony where one regiment of the Queen’s Guards takes over the duty of guarding her from another. From April through to the end of July, it occurs daily at 11:30am, and on alternate throughout the rest of the year (always weather dependent, though). The New Guard walks from the Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace to take over watch with the usual pageantry we associate with the British Royal Family! My recommendations? Try to get there by 10:30am to make sure you get the spot that you want. The crowd builds up quickly and you will want to actually be able to see what is happening, not only the backs of peoples’ heads. What I love about this particular picture is that it gives you an idea of the depth of the Palace; that front block is nowhere close to the entire Palace!
I went to the Changing of the Guards in late July of 2012; for anyone who wasn’t there, it was an exceedingly hot summer for London. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was caught off guard (pun, haha!) by just how green the gardens around the Palace were. I mean, it’s the Queen’s garden and I’m sure she has gardeners for just this purpose, but look how vibrant those flowers are!
This was about half an hour until the show got underway, and you can see that crowd builds fairly quickly. M and I decided to watch from the Victoria Memorial to have a bit of a higher vantage point. (He might be over six feet tall but I am not…) I am really glad that we did, we were able to spot the New Guards coming up the way!
No matter how busy everything on the ground may be, these windows are as quiet and still as ever. I don’t envy the people who have to dust those windows…
And here they come up the Pall Mall! Those red uniforms are as striking as you would think, possibly even more so. These make me more confident in my ten year old self’s choice for red to be my favourite colour.
We’ve all seen the video clips of ridiculous tourists trying to make the Guards laugh while they are on duty. However, I wonder if the cheering and waving makes it difficult to concentrate throughout the ceremony, as it is a fairly long ceremony that would require precision and a good deal of thought (at least when you first start out) at the best times.
If you’ve ever the chance, I would certainly stop by and see the ceremony. If you happen to be in London in the off season and are willing to stand outside in slightly chilly weather, you wouldn’t have much of a crowd to contend with. It is something else to see a ceremony like this and feed off of the energy of everyone else around you! It’s also free, for anyone looking to see London on a budget (a necessity in an expensive city like London!).
What is the one free thing that you recommend visitors do in your city?