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Changing the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace

LondonBuckingham PalaceChanging the Guard Ceremony

The Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace is a traditional ceremony where guards exchange duties, showcasing precise military precision. This iconic event, rich in pageantry, attracts visitors worldwide eager to witness a quintessential display of British ceremonial splendor. Scroll down to learn more!

What is Changing the Guard Ceremony?

Origin of Changing the Guard Ceremony

The Changing the Guard ceremony, a tradition rooted in over 520 years of history, began under the reign of Henry VII when he established the Royal Body Guard as a permanent institution. The first Guards Regiments were formed in 1656 to protect King Charles II during his exile, evolving into some of the oldest units in the British Army, distinguished in major conflicts since the 17th century. Originally held at the Palace of Whitehall, the ceremony moved to St James's Palace and then to Buckingham Palace in 1837 when Queen Victoria took residence. Today, the ceremony is primarily held at Buckingham Palace, with the presence of The King dictating the strength of the Guard, marked by the Royal Standard indicating the monarch's presence.

Why go to Changing the Guard Ceremony?

  • Experience the grandeur of British tradition: The Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace features the ceremonial exchange between the Old Guard and the New Guard. This majestic event, accentuated by musical accompaniment, showcases the rich pageantry of the United Kingdom.
  • Witness guards in ceremonial outfits: The guards, adorned in their traditional red tunics and bearskin hats, embody a quintessential symbol of British heritage and culture.
  • Enjoy free access: The Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace is free of charge, thus offering tourists and locals an affordable glimpse into a storied British tradition without cost.

Changing the Guard Ceremony highlights

Military March

During the ‘Changing the Guard ceremony’ at Buckingham Palace, the Military March exemplifies precision and discipline. This visually striking display features guards in immaculate uniforms marching in perfect unison, underscored by the rhythmic beating of drums. Accompanied by military bands, this procession captivates spectators and embodies the rich tradition and excellence of the British monarchy's ceremonial guard.

Military Band

During the Changing the Guard ceremony, the State Ceremonial Musicians of the Household Division, comprising seven Regimental Bands and the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra, provide the musical accompaniment. These musicians perform a rich repertoire, including traditional military marches and a selection of contemporary music, which create a vibrant atmosphere. The bands, which may also include the Corps of Drums and regimental pipers, play a pivotal role in adding tradition and splendor to the ceremony.

Military Outfit

At the Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the guards wear traditional red tunics and bearskin hats, emblematic of British military tradition. Known as The King's Guard, these soldiers from the Household Division's Foot Guards present a visually striking image that enhances the ceremony's grandeur. Their attire, steeped in centuries of history, symbolizes the enduring heritage and ceremonial duties of the monarchy’s protectors.

Plan your visit to Changing the Guard Ceremony

Opening Hours
Getting There

Timings: 11am, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, from the Buckingham Palace Forecourt

Address: Buckingham Palace Forecourt, London SW1A 1AA, United Kingdom

Find on Maps

  • By Bus: Bus routes 11, 211, C1, and C10 serve stops along Buckingham Palace Road. Victoria Coach Station is also conveniently located just a 10-minute walk from the Palace.
  • By Train: The closest train stations are London Victoria, a 10-minute walk away, and London Charing Cross, approximately 20 minutes on foot.
  • By Underground: Victoria, Green Park, St. James's Park, and Hyde Park Corner are the closest tube stations, each about a 10-minute walk away.



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Buckingham Palace Entrance Tickets with Multimedia Guide
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Changing of the Guard Tour with Optional Buckingham Palace Entry
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The King’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace Tickets with Multimedia Guide
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Combo (Save 5%): Changing of the Guards + Tower of London Tickets
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Westminster Abbey, Big Ben & Buckingham Palace Guided Tour
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Buckingham Palace & Windsor Castle Full-Day Guided Tour
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Royal London Coach Tour with Changing of the Guard
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Frequently asked questions about Changing the Guard Ceremony

Where is the best place to view the Changing the Guard Ceremony?

Good viewing spots include the fences in front of Buckingham Palace, the steps of the Victoria Memorial, and along The Mall.

Is there a fee to watch the Changing the Guard ceremony?

No, watching the Changing the Guard ceremony is free of charge.

How early should I arrive to get a good spot?

Arriving at least 45 minutes before the ceremony starts is recommended to secure a good viewing position, as the event is quite popular.

What happens if it rains on the day of the ceremony?

The ceremony may be canceled in the event of terrible weather. Cancellations can be confirmed on the morning of the ceremony via the Household Division's official website.

Can I take photographs during the ceremony?

Yes, photography is allowed during the ceremony, but due to the crowd, using large tripods might be restricted.

Are there any security restrictions for attending the ceremony?

As with any public event, expect to go through security checks. Large bags and backpacks are typically discouraged.

Is the Changing the Guard ceremony accessible for people with disabilities?

Yes, there are accessible viewing areas. You should contact the Palace's visitor services in advance to arrange accommodations.

Can children watch the ceremony?

Yes, the Changing the Guard is a family-friendly event. However, due to crowds, it's advisable to keep children close.

Can I bring my pet to watch the ceremony?

Pets are generally not recommended at the ceremony due to the large crowds and the nature of the event.

What should I wear to the ceremony?

There is no dress code for watching the ceremony, but it's recommended to check the weather forecast and dress appropriately for being outdoors.