- 1 Watching the Changing of the Guards with Kids for British Pageantry at its’ finest!
- 2 World Schooling – teaching your kids as you travel!
- 3 Changing of the Guards ceremony.
- 4 Insider Tips for Changing of the Guards with Kids
- 5 OR Watch the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard instead!
- 6 Household Cavalry Museum
- 7 The Inside Scoop
- 8 Toadstool Rating (by the kids)
- 9 Instagram: Family Travel Ideas with Roam the Gnome
- 10 Click here to follow us!
Watching the Changing of the Guards with Kids for British Pageantry at its’ finest!
Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace is the ceremony where the Old Guard sentries hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the New Guard sentries. The Guards themselves are immaculately dressed, in distinctive scarlet tunics and bearskin caps. If you delight in colourful spectacle, British pageantry,pomp and military ceremony, the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace should go at the top of your list.
The ceremony begins on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11:30 sharp, following a march by a detachment of the Old Guard, with musical support, from St. James’s Palace and the New Guard led by a Regimental Band from Wellington Barracks.The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes and usually takes place daily from April until the end of July and on alternate days for the rest of the year, weather permitting.
CHECK BEFORE YOU GO. Check the dates for this year here. You can also keep up to date on the Changing of the Guards facebook page.
While official start time is 11.30am, you need to be in place at Buckingham Palace much earlier than that to even get a tiny look in at the Changing of the Guards ceremony through the bars. We’ve some tips below of what you can do with kids instead of lining up at the palace gates for hours on end.
The Changing of the Guards IS one of London’s most popular attractions. Immaculately turned out guards, precision drill and bands playing stirring music all combine to make Changing of the Guard a spectacle for which London is famous.
Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace and Wellington Barrack are the three locations between which the Changing of the Guards ceremony takes place. Walking between these locations lets you see more of the Guards and Bands, taking part in the ceremony, plus a chance to get some great photographs.
World Schooling – teaching your kids as you travel!
Changing of the Guards ceremony.
- The Queen’s Guard is normally provided by one of the five regiments of Foot Guards from the Household Division.
- Musical support is provided by a Regimental Band or Corps of Drums with pipers occasionally taking part in the ceremony.
- The Guardsmen taking part in the ceremony are highly trained infantry soldiers, who in addition to their combat role (most of whom will have seen action overseas) undertake ceremonial duties.
- The Queen’s Guard consists of the St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace detachments
Insider Tips for Changing of the Guards with Kids
Try this alternative with kids to avoid tantrums and nervous breakdowns.
- Make your way to Wellington Barracks, at the Buckingham Palace end of Birdcage Walk, for about 10:45, to see the New Guard being inspected. While they are waiting for their Regimental Colours, the Band play a selection of music.
- At 11:27 the New Guard led by a Regimental Band will march out of Wellington Barracks, and turn left for Buckingham Palace. Follow them to the Palace.
- Take a little rest break during this lull where not much happens at the palace for kids to see, and head across to St James’s Park, over the bridge, where you will find toilets and a refreshment kiosk.
- Plan to be on The Mall, at the junction with Marlborough Road, for 11:55. First the St James’s Palace relief, will march up the Mall towards you, on their way to relieve the sentries who have been standing Guard during the ceremony. Then at 12:15 the St James’s Palace Detachment of the New Guard, led by a Regimental Band, will come marching straight down The Mall towards you.
OR Watch the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard instead!
- Smaller crowds and no railings between visitors and the men and horses taking part in the ceremony make for happier children.
- The Life Guard mounted on immaculately groomed horses with their swords drawn and breastplates shining in the sun present a stirring sight as they ride through the streets of London to Change the Guard on Horse Guards Parade.
- The Queen’s Life Guard is normally provided by men of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment which consists of a Squadron of The Life Guards, who wear red tunics and white plumed helmets, and a Squadron of The Blues and Royals with blue tunics and red plumed helmets.
- Life Guards have stood guard at Horse Guards, the official entrance to St James and Buckingham Palace, since the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660.
- The New Guard leaves Hyde Park Barracks at 10:28 weekdays and 9:28 on Sundays to ride to Horse Guards Parade via Hyde Park Corner, Constitution Hill and The Mall on their way to the guard change ceremony.
- Mounted sentries change every hour, in very cold weather they change every half hour, during the day until 16:00 when a Dismounting Parade, takes place in the forecourt of Horse Guards.
Household Cavalry Museum
Combine this with a visit to the Household Cavalry Museum where kids big and small can dress up in the uniform of a Life Guard or Blues and Royals trooper, as well as see the horses being worked on in their stables, through a glass partition, and you might just have found someone’s ideal day out.
The Inside Scoop
Opening Hours & Entry Fees
- Changing of the Guard is free of charge and no tickets are required.
- To get a good spot we recommend arriving at Buckingham Palace no later than 10:30.
- If the Palace gates are already crowded, head to Wellington Barracks on the Birdcage Walk to see the guards inspected before the change ceremony.
- In wet weather the Changing of the Guard ceremony can be cancelled, sometimes at the last minute. When this happen we recommend heading for Horse Guards Parade to see the Household Cavalry mount.
Where to Stand
- Next to the railings in front of Buckingham Palace is the spot many head for, to watch Changing of the Guard, but you will find it hard to get good pictures of the ‘Guards’ as they march to the Palace. (If you do want to stand at the railings take a bottle of water because if you leave for a drink or comfort break you will not get back to the front of the crowd).
- The steps of the Victoria Monument provide a reasonable view of the ceremony, and let you see the Guards and Bands arriving and departing, as well as watching the Household Cavalry pass on their way to and from Horse Guards, where they change the Queen’s Life Guard every day.
- Spur Road, on the left facing the Palace, gives a limited view but an opportunity to watch the New Guard and band marching up Birdcage Walk on their way to Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
- There are other spots along the routes the guards take to and from the Palace where you can see ‘The Queen’s Guard’ march past, while avoiding the huge crowds in front of Buckingham Palace.
The nearest tube stations are:
- Victoria – About 15 minutes. District, Circle & Victoria line
- Green Park – 10 minutes walk. Piccadilly, Victoria & Jubilee line
- St James’s Park – 10 minutes walk. District & Circle line
- Nearest, mainline, train station: London Victoria – About 15 minutes walk
- Bus Numbers: 11, 211, 239, C1 & C10 stop on Buckingham Palace Rd.
- Not recommended, Buckingham Palace is in the congestion charge zone. Parking is difficult to find and expensive.
Location and Map
- Address: Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA is where the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place.
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