The Ceremony of Changing the Guard

The Band of the Irish Guards leaves Buckingham Palace after the ceremony

The ceremony of Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, is a focal point for the many thousands of tourists who visit London each year. This intricate procedure facilitates the renewing of a guard at the end of its duty, ‘the Old Guard’. It is relieved by a refreshed detachment referred to as the ‘New Guard’. The ceremony normally takes place every day in the spring and summer months and reverts to every other day during autumn and winter.

 


Click on the video above for a few clips from Changing the Guard

 

The procedure of the ceremony

St. James's Palace is situated off of The Mall in Marlborough Road. A detachment of the 'Old Guard' forms up there in Friary Court at 10:30am for an inspection by the Captain of The Queen's Guard. This contingent then makes its way down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace at approximately 10:45 am preceded by a Regimental Band or Corps of Drums.

The other half of the Old Guard is already on duty at Buckingham Palace and is inspected whilst awaiting the arrival of the St. James's Palace detachment. The St. James's detachment enters the Palace Forecourt via the South Centre Gate (left of centre facing the Palace) and takes up position beside the Buckingham Palace detachment on the left hand side of the forecourt. Now complete, the Old Guard awaits the arrival of the incoming 'New Guard' from Wellington Barracks situated at the Buckingham Palace end of Birdcage Walk.

After undergoing its own inspection at approximately 10.40am the band accompanying the New Guard at Wellington Barracks forms a circle and plays a few items whilst awaiting the arrival of the New Guard’s Regimental Colour.

The Colour is a symbol of honour and has the various campaigns associated with the regiment's history emblazoned upon it. Traditionally it served as a rallying point in battle and Queen's Guard Mount provides an opportunity for the soldiers to be familiarised with it as it is paraded or 'trooped' before them. After saluting the Colour, the New Guard departs from Wellington Barracks preceded by the Regimental Band. The New Guard enters the Forecourt at approximately 11:00 am via the North Centre Gate (right of centre facing the Palace), marches in-front of the band and halts to face the Old Guard.

The Regimental Band then performs the New Guard's Regimental Slow March as it advances towards the Old Guard. The Old and New Guards 'Present Arms' before the Captains of the Guard ceremoniously hand over the Palace keys. This symbolic gesture represents the transfer of responsibility for the Palace’s security from the Old to the New Guard.

Her Majesty The Queen is deemed to be in residence when the Royal Standard is flying from the Palace. Upon such occasions, the Foot Guards on the forecourt of the Palace will await the Mounted Cavalry and will salute with their rifles at '‘Present Arms' as the cavalry pass between the Queen Victoria Memorial, affectionately known as the 'Birthday Cake', and Buckingham Palace.

After the 'Present Arms', officers of both the Old and New Guard Buckingham Palace detachments salute the Senior Captain on parade with their swords. Retiring to the guardroom, they will later report to the Senior Captain after completing handover procedures with their Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. During this period the Ensigns carrying their respective Colours patrol the area before the Palace from left to right. Officers not directly involved in the ceremony march in step along the west side of the Guards.

As each new sentry is posted, a Corporal distributes any special orders previously collected personally from the Palace by the Captains of the Guard. During these procedures the Regimental Band, originally accompanying the New Guard, moves to the centre of the forecourt, forms a semi circle and performs a programme of music. Pipers occasionally accompanying the Old Guard also provide music during this point in the ceremony.

The original sentries, having been replaced by the incoming New Guard, return to complete the Old Guard. The duty bugler informs the Director of Music that the handover is complete. The band then reforms in front of the centre gates.

At approximately 11:35 pm the Guards re-form and are called to 'Attention'. The Old Guard advances to its Regimental Slow March towards the New Guard. Wheeling right, the Colours of the Old and New Guard exchange compliments as the Old Guard exits through the Centre Gate preceded by the band. Having left the Palace, the Old Guard 'breaks into quick time' and continues its march back to Wellington Barracks.

The New Guard remaining in the Palace is given the order to 'Slope Arms' and is referred to from this point as 'The Queen’s Guard.' The detachment then divides into two. Those responsible for guarding St. James's Palace, usually led by the remaining Regimental Band or Corps of Drums, march off down the Mall to place the Regimental Colour in the guardroom in Friary Court at St. James's Palace. The Buckingham Palace detachment of The Queen's Guard then retires to the Palace guardroom to assume its duties.

 

Changing the Guard Schedule for London and Windsor
 

BUCKINGHAM PALACE GUARD
at 11.00 am

DATE UNIT MUSICAL SUPPORT
Mon 22nd Nov F Company Scots Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Scots Guards
Wed 24th Nov 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Grenadier Guards Corps of Drums
Fri 26th Nov Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Sun 28th Nov F Company Scots Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Grenadier Guards
Mon 29th Nov 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Band of the Irish Guards
1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Corps of Drums
Wed 1st Dec F Company Scots Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Fri 3rd Dec 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Sun 5th Dec F Company Scots Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Band of the Grenadier Guards
Mon 6th Dec Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Band of the Grenadier Guards
Wed 8th Dec 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Fri 10th Dec F Company Scots Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Sun 12th Dec Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Mon 13th Dec 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Scots Guards
1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Wed 15th Dec Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Scots Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Fri 17th Dec F Company Scots Guards Band of the Scots Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Sun 19th Dec Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Mon 20th Dec 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Wed 22nd Dec F Company Scots Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Fri 24th Dec 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Mon 27th Dec 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Wed 29th Dec 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Fri 31st Dec 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards

WINDSOR CASTLE GUARD
at 11.00 am

DATE UNIT MUSICAL SUPPORT
Tue 23rd Nov 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Corps of Drums
Thu 25th Nov 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Corps of Drums
Sat 27th Nov 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Corps of Drums
Sun 28th Nov 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards No music or ceremony
Tue 30th Nov 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Thu 2nd Dec Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Sat 4th Dec 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Corps of Drums
Sun 5th Dec 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards No music or ceremony
Tue 7th Dec 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Corps of Drums
Thu 9th Dec 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Sat 11th Dec 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Sun 12th Dec 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards No music or ceremony
Tue 14th Dec F Company Scots Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Thu 16th Dec 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Corps of Drums
Sat 18th Dec 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Sun 19th Dec 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards No music or ceremony
Tue 21st Dec Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Thu 23rd Dec 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Tue 28th Dec 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Thu 30th Dec 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards

Recommendations for those planning to attend are:

As with any major event or attraction take a rapid lateral flow test before going to help keep everyone safe
Anyone who tests positive should not travel and follow Government advice to isolate
If someone in your household has had a positive test result, or if you are told to self-isolate, please do not come to Guard Change.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 please do not come to Guard Change
Wear face coverings in busy or enclosed areas
Carry a hand sanitiser and sanitise your hands frequently

Click here for a printable version of the December 2021 schedules




Take a walking tour and see Changing the Guard from start to finish.
Understand the history and meaning behind the ceremony, and have fun along the way!

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More detailed information on Changing the Guard

and at

http://www.changing-the-guard.com/


Watch the entire ceremony at Buckingham Palace


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The HQ London District official webpage is at:
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