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Change of the British Royal Guard at The Buckingham Palace

By Marco Aguilar |

Visit the Buckingham Palace in central London. Discover the treasures of the Royal Family of the United Kingdom and see the famous change of the British Royal Guard.

Discover the Buckingham Palace of London

When hearing the word London endless elements can come to your mind. They might range from the most famous attractions such as the Big Ben or the London Bridge, to movie locations of Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and A Clockwork Orange. But, undoubtedly, you’ll also think about uniformed men. You know, those men who wear a red jacket, black pants and a big furry hat. Yes, we refer to the British Royal Guard of the Buckingham Palace. DINKtravelers, as your world travel guide, brings you closer to this monumental Palace and the peculiar event of the change of the British Royal Guard.

The Buckingham Palace from Mansion to Palace

The Buckingham Palace was built in 1703 as the Duke of Buckingham’s mansion. It was designed by architect William Winde, who was also a British military officer. The place was known as Buckingham House until 1762 when king George III acquired it. He started looking for a private residence in London, so as soon as he saw the mansion he decided to buy it. Then, he offered it as a gift it to his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Their son, George IV added some areas to the building turning it into a Royal Palace in 1826. But don’t be confused! The king’s official residence was still at Windsor Castle. Back then, the only started organizing certain ceremonies at Buckingham.

Brief History of the Buckingham Palace

It was in 1837, with the arrival of the Queen Victoria I and Prince Albert of Saxony, when Buckingham Palace became the royal residence. Actually, Queen Victoria was the first queen to be crowned and reside at Buckingham Palace. She was the daughter of Edward of Kent and granddaughter of George III. Granddaughter? Weren’t male descendants the only ones who could inherit the crown? Well, because George IV and William IV, both sons of George III, died without legitimate descendants, the crown of the United Kingdom passed to Victoria I. When Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria was devastated by the loss of her husband whom she had loved very much. Therefore, she left London and moved to Windsor Castle. Sadly, she abandoned the palace until her son, Edward VII, was crowned. It was him who returned to the Buckingham Palace making it the royal residence.

The Royal Collection at the Buckingham Palace

During World War I, the Buckingham Palace did not suffer any bomb attacks. However, the Royal Collection was taken to Windsor Castle as a precaution. It’s one of the world’s most important and vast art collections belonging to the British Royal Family,

Later, in World War II, the Buckingham Palace suffered some damages. The most serious was the destruction of the chapel in a bombing in 1940. In its place, they   built the Queen’s Gallery, which houses part of the Royal Collection since 1962.

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When you go to Buckingham Palace Park enjoy the opportunity to see some works of art belonging to the collection. It has acquired many works since its creation in 1660. That was also the date when the monarchy was restored after the execution of King Charles I.

Change of the British Royal Guard at the Buckingham Palace

One of the events you can’t miss when you visit the Buckingham Palace in London is the famous Change of the British Royal Guard ceremony. It takes place at the palace’s entrance. The protagonist is the British Royal Guard, which consists of two detachments. The first one, the Buckingham Palace guard, and the second, St. James’ Palace Guards. They also come from five different infantry regiments of the army of United Kingdom. These are: the Scottish Guard, the Irish Guard, the Welsh Guard, the Grenadier Guard and the Coldstream Guard.

Apart from their peculiar uniform, the British Royal Guard is known for their stern attitude and the patience with which they perform their duties. Without falter, they must keep an eye open to protect the surroundings of Buckingham Palace Park. Although it’s possible to take pictures with the guards, don’t expect them to pose or smile for your photo. Remember not to touch them…ever. If they feel threatened they’ll immediately yell: “Back away from the Queen’s Guard!” Therefore, you must respect their work.

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The ceremony of the Change of the British Royal Guard

You know that the change of the British Royal Guard is starting when the guards belonging to the new shift march out the Wellington headquarters. It’s located at the right of the Buckingham Palace. They march accompanied by the music band and head towards the entrance of the palace. This parade lasts around 5 minutes. Then, once at Buckingham Palace Park, the old guard lines up on the north side and the new guards do the same on the south side. Meanwhile music continues to play and the change is executed. Finally, the old guard goes to Wellington headquarters and the events ends after about 40 minutes.

The change of the British Royal Guard takes place every day from May to July at Buckingham Palace Park. During all other months, it only takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, weather permitting.

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The hats of the British Royal Guard

Surely, one of the most distinctive elements of the British Royal Guard and the Coldstream regiment is their uniform. It includes a striking red coat and black pants. Yet, its best accessory is the huge black bearskin hat the guards wear. It was adopted in 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo. The battle was fought between the French army and the coalition made up by the British army, the Netherlands and Prussia. The coalition won. However, it was the British grenadiers who took the helmets worn by the Imperial French Guard as a symbol of victory. The hats had been designed to make the soldiers look taller intimidating. Nevertheless, now they’re an emblem of the British Royal Guard at the Buckingham Palace.

It is possible to purchase a replica of these hats as a souvenir. Still, the most popular souvenirs among visitors are the teddy bears dressed like the British Royal Guard. The even have their red coat and bearskin hat. Take these cute fellows with you from your visit to the Buckingham Palace in London!

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Now that you know all about the change of the British Royal Guard at the Buckingham Palace, it’s time to pack your bags. You’re ready for your next trip to the United Kingdom. Remember to share with us your experience to see this event. It has surely become a tradition among tourists who visit London.