Everything You Need To Know About Buckingham Palace And The Changing Of The Guard

16th Nov 2019

Going to see Buckingham Palace and watching the Changing of the Guard are some of London’s most famous sights. The Guards, in their immaculate red tunics and bearskin caps, perform the prestigious ceremony which dates back to 1656 with their Colours (flags) and music from some of the world’s best military musicians.

What happens in the Changing of the Guard?

This traditional handover ceremony takes place with precision at Buckingham Palace when the Old Guard (the one currently on duty) is relieved from their position by the New Guard who arrives from Wellington Barracks. The New Guard is accompanied by a band.

When is the Changing of the Guard?

See the schedule here for dates.

What time is the Changing of the Guard?

At Buckingham Palace, the ceremony is at 10.45 am. Soldiers gather at St James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks from 10 am. Make sure you get there a bit early to secure a good spot at this busy event.

Where are the best places to watch the Changing of the Guard?

Watch the Changing of the Guard from Friary Court at St James’s Palace (to see the very beginning of the ceremony), The Mall, the Victoria Memorial or Buckingham Palace Gates (in front of the palace), or Wellington Barracks.

How long does the Changing of the Guard ceremony last?

The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes.

Do I have to pay to see the Changing of the Guard?

No, it’s free.

What if it rains?

The Changing of the Guard may be cancelled up until the last minute, especially in wet weather. In heavy rain the ceremony will not take place. If the weather is changeable you may ask police officers stationed at Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial if the ceremony is going to be cancelled.

How do I get to Buckingham Palace?

The postcode is SW1A 1AA and the nearest tube stations are St James’s Park, Green Park and Charing Cross. Buses that stop nearby include numbers 148, 2, 16, 52, 38, 36, 390 and 1.

When is the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard?

The Queen’s Life Guard mounts at 11 am Monday to Saturday and 10 am on Sundays. They leave Hyde Park Barracks to ride down at 10.28 am (9.28 am on Sundays) and the handover takes place on Horse Guards Parade. Mounted sentries change every hour from 10 am to 4 pm. After the 4 pm parade, two mounted sentries guard the entrance to Horse Guards until 8 pm when the gates are shut and a single sentry remains on guard until 7 am when a second sentry returns on duty.

Who are the Queen’s Guard soldiers?

The Guardsmen taking part in the Changing of the Guard are highly trained infantry soldiers. ‘The Queen’s Guard’ is a term which covers all of the soldiers that are stationed outside the royal residences and they come from five different regiments: Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards, Welsh Guards.

What do each of the Guards wear?

In warmer months the soldiers wear the traditional red tunic, black and red trousers and bearskin caps. In cooler months the red tunic is replaced with a grey jacket. To be able to tell the difference between the different regiments you will have to look for subtle differences in the uniforms...

Grenadier Guards - buttons or the tunic are equally spaced, their collar has a grenade design on it and the plume of their hat is white
Coldstream Guards - buttons on the tunic are in groups of two, their collar has a star-shaped design and the plume of their hat is red
Scots Guards - buttons on the tunic are in groups of three, their collar has a thistle design and they have no plume in their hat
Irish Guards - buttons on the tunic are in groups of four, their collar has a shamrock design and the plume of their hat is blue
Welsh Guards - buttons on the tunic are in groups of four, their collar has a sleek design and the plume of their hat is green and white.

Can I go inside Buckingham Palace?

For ten weeks every summer and on selected dates for the rest of the year the State Rooms are open to the public. You will need to buy tickets on the Buckingham Palace website.

Is the Queen at home?

The number of soldiers will be increased if the Queen is in residence. You can tell if she is as the Royal Standard flag will be flying above the Palace. The Union Flag will be flying if she’s not.

How many rooms are there in Buckingham Palace?

Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms including 188 staff bedrooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. There are 1514 doors and 760 windows in the palace which are cleaned every six weeks.

When was Buckingham Palace built?

It was built in 1705 as the townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham. In 1761 King George III bought Buckingham Palace for £21,000 for his wife Queen Charlotte to have as her private residence and became known as the ‘Queen’s House’. In 1820 it was transformed by architect John Nash into a palace but he was fired for going over budget. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to make it their official residence when she moved there in 1837.

How many people work and live at Buckingham Palace?

Over 800 members of staff live there including a clockmaker to keep the palace’s 350 clocks running.

Has Buckingham Palace got secret tunnels?

Yes, there are secret passages under the palace connecting it to nearby streets.

How big is the garden at Buckingham Palace?

The palace has the largest private garden in London which covers 40 acres and has tennis courts, a lake and a helicopter pad. The Queen hosts annual parties in the garden inviting around 50,000 guests in total each year.