The Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace is one of the most famous and popular events that comes to mind when thinking of London or the Royal Family. The centuries old ceremony takes place daily, as the guards switch shifts and march from Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace. Visitors line the parade route as the guards march and the band follows. I had the honor and luck of watching the event from the barracks themselves, as a friend was a Captain in the British Army and was kind enough to give us a front row view.
The ceremony includes music and marches, and while some of it may seem arbitrary or a fluke, each movement, action, and command is purposefully chosen and intentional. Though it seems like these men in red coats and very tall horse haired hats are just performers, that is not the case. The soldiers participating in the ceremony are current and active members of the British army's infantry, participating in just one of the many requirements of a soldier.
We watched as the guards marched in various formation and the marching band played in a circle a range of songs from traditional marching music to more contemporary tunes like Smooth Criminal. It was a bit strange to see the this juxtaposition of regal tradition, pop music, and crowds of rambunctious tourists, but entertaining and magnificent nonetheless.
You can catch the changing of the guards every day in July at 11:15 am until about noon. Check the website (http://www.changing-the-guard.com/) to see the dates for August and September, as they vary seasonally, and to pick the best spot to view the procession.
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Photo credit: Amy Wiener