Changing of the Guards in London.
A spine-tingling experience...

Seeing the changing of the guards in London is without doubt one of the best experiences I ever have while being a Central London Tourist.

So much so, that when I was thinking about writing this page, I got so overwhelmed with trying to put into words how much we LOVE it, that I was finding it hard to get started.

What is the Changing of the Guard?

Simply put, the changing of the guards is the exchange between guards who have been on duty ("old" guards)...

...and the guards going on duty ("new" guards).

The changing of the guard is usually accompanied by the guard band and you may just get a surprise when you hear what they sometimes play.

The royal horse guards will also give you something spectacular to look at!

Where is the Changing of the Guard?

Most people know that the Buckingham Palace Guards change and this is where the majority of tourists will stand. 

The gates outside Buckingham Palace get very busy because of this. Especially in the summer months.

There are other places to go though and on this page I will tell you how we do it.

What days and times do the guards change?

The changing of the Buckingham Palace guards starts around 11.30am and continues for about 40 minutes.

In the winter the changing of the guard is on alternate days and every day in the summer.

If there is rain or bad weather you may notice there will be no guard band or the guard change could be cancelled completely.

The best thing is to check the official Royal website when you are planning to go. 

You'll find days, dates and any last minute changes to the schedule there.

What time should you get there to get a good view?

The changing of the guard in London is one of those things to do in England that really draws the crowds.

Apart from it being one of the tourist attractions in London that is actually free (!) it is also very exciting.

In the summer, you will notice that people can be waiting at the gates of Buckingham Palace as early as 9am! 

But if you can't make it that early and you are happy to stand along the roadside and watch the royal guards marching up to the Palace, then you will still have a good experience.

The best time to go though is in the winter.  You will still need to get to Buckingham Palace earlier, but 1030am should be early enough.

We do it differently though...

So how do we do it here at Central London Tourist?

Well I always go in the winter for a start.

I walk from Trafalgar Square and make my way to "The Mall"

(That long road leading to Buckingham Palace).

If you're in Trafalgar Square and you're not sure which way to go,

just ask someone for walking directions down to The Mall. 

The walk will take you at least 20mins,

more if you are stopping to take pictures along the way.

It's a really lovely walk though and you'll pass some amazing places to see in London...

...and beautiful buildings.

You'll see Clarence House with a royal guard outside...

...and you can even get your photo taken with a fine British policeman.

Keep your eyes open though.

Prince William and Kate Middleton have their London apartment at Clarence House.

Imagine how great it would be if you bumped into them!

From here, I continue along The Mall heading towards Buckingham Palace

(St James' Park is on the left on the other side of the road)

Then turn off to the right at St James' Palace where the new guards will be coming out ready to go on duty.

I get there for about 10.40am and I always get a great view.

Around 11am the Royal Guards come out and get ready by playing a warm up tune.

The band may play a classical tune or well known song from the musicals.

They might even play Michael Jackson's Thriller...

...Yes you heard me...Thriller!

Whatever they choose though, it always gives me goosebumps.

Literally as soon as the band finish playing I get a fast walk on and get ahead of them.

I walk back down to The Mall, cross over to the St James' Park side and if I've been quick, I can watch as they march out onto The Mall.

Great Photo opportunity here!

In the winter, you can then walk alongside the band as they play, on their way up to Buckingham Palace.

It really is a special thing to be able to do and if you have children with you, they'll never forget it.

If you are going in the summer and you have to battle the crowds, I would still advise you try your best to experience the changing of the guards in London.

It really is a wonderful thing to do on your holidays in London.

So there's more! We do loads in London and our Central London Tourist adventures continue here...

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