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Changing the Guard

Change (c) Laszlo-photo via Flickr
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One of London's most interesting and colourful ceremonies, Changing the Guard, takes place at two locations:

At Buckingham Palace the guard is formed from one of the foot regiments. A band leads the new guard from Wellington or Chelsea barracks, to the forecourt of the palace, and after the ceremony it leads the old guard back to barracks.

How to Identify Regiments

There are five regiments of foot guards; all wear scarlet tunics and black bearskins. To identify the regiments look for the different coloured plumes in their bearskins and see if you can spot the different arrangement of buttons on their tunics:

The Grenadier Guards have white plumes and evenly spaced buttons; the Coldstream Guards, red plumes and buttons in pairs; the Scots Guards, no plumes and buttons in threes; the Irish Guards, blue plumes and buttons in fours; the Welsh Guards, white-and-green plumes and buttons in fives.

Changing the guard - Buckingham Palace (c) Gabriel Villena via Flickr
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Mounting the Guard

Mounting the Guard - the cavalry term for changing the guard, also takes place at Horse Guards on Whitehall. Making an impressive and colourful sight, twelve troops mounted on impeccably groomed horses, make their way from Hyde Park barracks, via Hyde Park Corner, Constitution Hill and The Mall; arriving at Horse Guards to carry out sentry duty.

When the Queen is resident in London, an officer, a corporal of horse, sixteen troupers and a trumpeter on a grey horse take part in the ceremony.

The guards mounted on their beautiful horses, are stationed, immobile, in the arches on either side of the clock tower. There are also two dismounted guards, positioned on the other side of the arch leading to Horse Guards Parade.

The mounted guards are changed hourly, but those on foot have to stand for two hours on sentry duty.

Household Cavalry

The guard is formed from the two regiments that comprise the Household Cavalry, they are the LifeGuards, originally the bodyguard to Charles I, and the Blues and Royals, formed from a regiment serving Oliver Cromwell.

Today they are the Queen's bodyguard on all state occasions. Their uniforms are easier to identify; the LifeGuards wear white plumes on their helmets and red tunics; the Blues and Royals wear red plumes and blue uniforms. George IV instigated the use of armour to the waist, known as cuirasses.

All seven form the Household Regiments of which the Queen is colonel-in-chief. In addition to their ceremonial duties, these regiments are still part of the regular British army.

The offical website of the British Monarchy has the schedule for Changing the Guard.

Find out about other interesting Pageants and Ceremonies of London too.

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