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London Day 2: Buckingham Palace and “The Changing of the Guard”

Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guards
Cost: Free
Time: About 2.5 hours

Jacob only had a handful of things on his list of must-do’s in London, and the Changing of the Guard was 2nd on his list. We made sure to fit it in on our first full day in London. We slept in a little to ward off jet lag, and then we headed straight for Buckingham Palace to get a good spot. Being early pays off! Here we are at the front of the crowd.

And it was pretty cool to just stare at Buckingham Palace and think of what The Queen was doing inside (the flag flying above shows she’s in)! We also enjoyed being a little cold, something Arizonians bask in and enjoy from the months of May-September. It was a perfectly overcast and breezy day, we couldn’t have asked for better weather or picture lighting this day.

We braced ourselves for the events and timeline of the Changing of the Guard:
10:30- Tourists arrive and start lining up
11:00- New guards gather for inspection
11:15- St. James’s Palace guards and Horse Guard head for palace to be relieved, replacement troops also head for the palace
11:30- All guards start to converge at Buckingham Palace
11:45-12:00- ceremony takes place
12:00- Fresh guards replace tired guards

Our first sign something was off was when there were many horse guards before 11:00. They didn’t stay long either, so it wasn’t what we expected. It seemed a little early, but we went with it.

Then we waited until 11:30 and nothing seemed to be happening. Around 11:45 some police showed up, and a few in the crowd asked what was taking place. These two were extra kind and patient answering the same questions over and over again. It was our first taste of how polite British culture really is.

The police told us the traditional Changing of the Guard wouldn’t take place today, but we’d get to see the parade practice for the Queen’s Birthday, which in their opinion, would likely be grander and also something special. I know at first we were a little disappointed, we likely couldn’t come back another day to see the traditional ceremony. Even though we did see it taking place in the background (as seen in the picture below).

 Just as we decided to stay and enjoy the hoopla for The Queen, we were please with what we did get to see when everything started. 

 There were many buggies, guards, and representatives from all military branches. There were so many people involved, and it was really cool to see. But I found myself still a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see the famous red-coat guards in large black hats like the Changing of the Guard. Just as I had that thought and expressed it to Jacob who agreed, this happened:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1T–h48rb4]

And after looking up and watching the traditional ceremony on YouTube, we are going to agree with the police officer- maybe this was grander and a special treat! We even got to see a modified version of it with all the different guards of London. We’re going to count this as a check on Jacob’s bucket list!

And we’re still holding onto the memory of that day in June when we got to fight the crowds, freeze a little, and enjoy seeing the great military who so dearly love their queen.

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