The Changing of the Guard is a centuries-old tradition that marks the official shift change of the Household Regiment—the Queen's guards stationed at Buckingham Palace. One of the world's most famous ceremonies and a top London experience, this ceremony gives visitors the chance to witness the grandeur of a royal march. Dressed in their iconic red suits and bearskin hats, the guards exemplify classic British pomp in a showing that's not to be missed.
The Guard Mounting ceremony begins with the New Guard marching from Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace with a marching band, while the mounted Horse Guards Parade leaves from the Hyde Park barracks and crosses The Mall to St. James' Place. The official guard change then takes place in the palace forecourt. Some London walking tours include a timed stop at the palace to see the event, while other tours combine a viewing with a visit to the Tower of London or a whirl on the London Eye.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Buckingham Palace's Changing the Guard ceremony takes place daily at 11:30am and lasts about 45 minutes.
- Crowds are frequent, especially at the palace, but you'll find quieter spots elsewhere along the route.
- The ceremony is free to watch, and no tickets are required.
How to Get There
The procession begins at Wellington Barracks and continues on to Buckingham Palace in central London. The nearest tube stations are St. James Park, Green Park, and Victoria.
When to Get There
To get a good view, it's best to arrive early—as early as 9:30am for a good view in the summer months. Some tours are timed specifically for the ceremony, guaranteeing the best viewpoints and insight from an expert tour guide. Note that the ceremony may be canceled in bad weather.
Things to Do Near Buckingham Palace
Travelers can pair the show with stops at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Windsor Castle, or even with afternoon tea, a classic London experience. The nearby Tower of London also has an entertaining guards tour that complements Buckingham's Changing of the Guard ceremony.