Changing Of The Guard At Clarence House
Author: Bob Handford
The Changing Of The Guard at Buckingham Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London, and it’s FREE.
If you have not been, think a while – just what exactly are you expecting to see?
The Changing of the Guard ceremony can be a major ant-climax if your expectations are unrealistic.
Crowds are heavy, even in winter. Unless you get there early (like 45 minutes or so, you’ll have a very limited view). Your view will be from behind the palace railings, unless you were there real early the soldiers will be some way from your viewpoint, (see image below).
You’ll see a lot of soldiers in ceremonial uniform, a band playing and lots of marching, saluting and shouting of orders in a ceremony that lasts about 45 minutes.
A lot of the time nothing seems to be happening.
The clue is the title ‘Changing of the Guard’.
All the bands, music and marching are just the pomp that surrounds the whole reason for the ceremony, simply changing the guards to the palace and other royal buildings nearby. This physical changing of the guard is largely hidden from your view.
The guards work 2 hour shifts over a 2 day period before they are relieved. Changing of the Guard consists of a new group of guards marching into Buckingham Palace and one by one relieving the existing guards all around the Palace. When this exercise is completed, the relieved Guards march out of the Palace back to their barracks. What you actually see for the most part is the band playing and guards coming and going from the parade ground as they go to and from the guard positions, most of which are hidden from your view.
Although Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is the one that gets all the publicity and crowds, other Guards have to be relieved in a similar way at other royal locations, often with just a handful of people watching on. Horseguards and Windsor Castle are two of the more popular alternative Changing of the Guards.
If you want to see the Changing Of the Guard at close quarters with few people just stroll over to Clarence House at 11:25 a.m, only about 300 yards from Buckingham Palace. It only lasts 5 minutes and you can be on your way by 11:40 a.m.
If you are OK with a more restricted view but prefer the idea of the band and pomp with Buckingham Palace as a backdrop, get to Buckingham Palace well before 10:30 a.m. for a reasonably good view and be prepared to wait.
Below is a short video at Clarence House showing the ceremony there.