Changing the Guard
History of Changing of the Guards
Since the reign of Henry VII, over 520 years ago, the Royal Body Guard has been a permanent institution. Guards Regiments were created to provide a personal bodyguard for the Sovereign with the first Guards been created in 1656 to protect the exiled King Charles II.
Made up of highly-trained officers and soldiers, they are one of the oldest units of the British Army and have fought with great distinction in nearly every major conflict involving soldiers of the UK 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. Thereafter, when the Court moved to St James’s Palace, the ceremony took place there.
In 1837, when Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Guard remained at St James’s Palace, with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace, as it still does today, which one of the reasons why the main ceremony is conducted there. The strength of the Guard is governed by The Queen’s presence, in that when the Queen is in residence, the number of sentries is increased.
Troop Movements at and around the Palace
Before the Ceremony:
- 10:43am: Old Guard leaves St James’s Palace (a contingent remains until it is replaced by a part of the New Guard)
- 10:57am: New Guard leaves Wellington Barracks towards Buckingham Palace where the ceremony starts at 11:00am
During and after the Ceremony
- 11:10am: St James’s Palace relief leaves Buckingham Palace
- 11:25am: St James’s Palace contingent leaves St James’s Palace
- 11:40pm: Old Guard leaves Buckingham Palace
- 11:45pm: St James’s Palace Guard leaves Buckingham Palac
Where to see Changing of The Guard:
The ceremony takes place in front of Buckingham Palace at 10:45am and lasts for about 45 minutes everyday. You should arrive early to get the best view. Soldiers gather at St James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks from 10:00am and march to Buckingham Palace accompanied by music
*Changing the Guard can sometimes be cancelled at very short notice, especially in wet weather and can be decided as late as 10:45am on the day.*