……And all the King’s Men.

You can imagine the conversation, “Fantastic party, we really must do it again sometime.” In this case, the party was the coronation of Edward VII as king of England in 1902, and the chances of doing it again weren’t really an option.

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GUARDS leave St James’s Palace

You see, a coronation is a once in a lifetime event (personally, not one I have ever experienced-unless you count the being near the crowning of the king of the Netherlands). Aside from the annual birthday parade that is the Trooping of the Colour, the Guard Change has become an integral part of London life and to some extent is a right of passage for any British child.

Christopher Robin went to the Guard Change with Alice and so should every small child. As a Brit, having been crushed against the railings, you have satisfied your own commitment and like as not will never return until you have children or even grandchildren of your own. But there is another way, so read on and let me explain.

Since 1902, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace has taken place in The Mall, between St James’s Palace, Buckingham Palace and from Wellington Barracks in Bird Cage Walk. Recent incidents in Europe appear to have resulted in a change in ethos and the Guard Change is becoming a little less accessible (certainly to vehicles) but with visitor numbers booming, it’s unlikely that visitors to London will be put off and will continue to throng in their thousands to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. In some respects, with the absence of vehicular traffic, the Guard Change is becoming even more of a spectacle.

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THE NEW GUARD HEADS TO ITS POST

The secret to a successful Guard Change (from a spectator’s perspective), is to keep on the move. Avoid the instinct to stand at the front of Buckingham Palace for hours on end. Begin at the beginning, be around St James’s Palace as the old guard marches out follow them at a marching pace, you’ll do it instinctively when you feel the beat of the drum vibrating through your body, (a bit like that innate need to dance to the beat). You then need to be ready to find the new Guard forming up at their barracks. Head across the park following the sound of the music (as it were), and marvel as the shiny new guard heads to its post in the palace.

If that isn’t enough for you or you have just missed the new guard, then wait 30 minutes and just after the hour, the old guard will retire back to barracks, (time it right and you’ll catch the Horseguards heading home to Knightsbridge).  Confused? Give me a call and I’ll show you how its done. 🙂

Glyn Jones

Glyn is a professional Blue Badge Guide (the British national standard guiding qualification and internationally-recognised benchmark of excellence) and enjoys sharing his love of London with visitors from home and abroad.

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