The Ceremony of Changing the Guard

The Band of the Irish Guards leaves Buckingham Palace after the ceremony

The ceremony of Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, is a focal point for the many thousands of tourists who visit London each year. This intricate procedure facilitates the renewing of a guard at the end of its duty, ‘the Old Guard’. It is relieved by a refreshed detachment referred to as the ‘New Guard’. The ceremony normally takes place every other day. See the schedules below.

 


Click on the video above for a few clips from Changing the Guard

 

The procedure of the ceremony

St. James's Palace is situated off of The Mall in Marlborough Road. A detachment of the 'Old Guard' forms up there in Friary Court at 10:30am for an inspection by the Captain of The King's Guard. This contingent then makes its way down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace at approximately 10:45 am preceded by a Regimental Band or Corps of Drums.

The other half of the Old Guard is already on duty at Buckingham Palace and is inspected whilst awaiting the arrival of the St. James's Palace detachment. The St. James's detachment enters the Palace Forecourt via the South Centre Gate (left of centre facing the Palace) and takes up position beside the Buckingham Palace detachment on the left hand side of the forecourt. Now complete, the Old Guard awaits the arrival of the incoming 'New Guard' from Wellington Barracks situated at the Buckingham Palace end of Birdcage Walk.

After undergoing its own inspection at approximately 10.40am the band accompanying the New Guard at Wellington Barracks forms a circle and plays a few items whilst awaiting the arrival of the New Guard’s Regimental Colour.

The Colour is a symbol of honour and has the various campaigns associated with the regiment's history emblazoned upon it. Traditionally it served as a rallying point in battle and King's Guard Mount provides an opportunity for the soldiers to be familiarised with it as it is paraded or 'trooped' before them. After saluting the Colour, the New Guard departs from Wellington Barracks preceded by the Regimental Band. The New Guard enters the Forecourt at approximately 11:00 am via the North Centre Gate (right of centre facing the Palace), marches in-front of the band and halts to face the Old Guard.

The Regimental Band then performs the New Guard's Regimental Slow March as it advances towards the Old Guard. The Old and New Guards 'Present Arms' before the Captains of the Guard ceremoniously hand over the Palace keys. This symbolic gesture represents the transfer of responsibility for the Palace’s security from the Old to the New Guard.

His Majestry The King is deemed to be in residence when the Royal Standard is flying from the Palace. Upon such occasions, the Foot Guards on the forecourt of the Palace will await the Mounted Cavalry and will salute with their rifles at '‘Present Arms' as the cavalry pass between the Queen Victoria Memorial, affectionately known as the 'Birthday Cake', and Buckingham Palace.

After the 'Present Arms', officers of both the Old and New Guard Buckingham Palace detachments salute the Senior Captain on parade with their swords. Retiring to the guardroom, they will later report to the Senior Captain after completing handover procedures with their Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. During this period the Ensigns carrying their respective Colours patrol the area before the Palace from left to right. Officers not directly involved in the ceremony march in step along the west side of the Guards.

As each new sentry is posted, a Corporal distributes any special orders previously collected personally from the Palace by the Captains of the Guard. During these procedures the Regimental Band, originally accompanying the New Guard, moves to the centre of the forecourt, forms a semi circle and performs a programme of music. The Regimental Band or pipers accompanying the Old Guard may also provide music during this point in the ceremony.

The original sentries, having been replaced by the incoming New Guard, return to complete the Old Guard. The duty bugler informs the Director of Music that the handover is complete. The band then reforms in front of the centre gates.

At approximately 11:35 pm the Guards re-form and are called to 'Attention'. The Old Guard advances to its Regimental Slow March towards the New Guard. Wheeling right, the Colours of the Old and New Guard exchange compliments as the Old Guard exits through the Centre Gate preceded by the band. Having left the Palace, the Old Guard 'breaks into quick time' and continues its march back to Wellington Barracks.

The New Guard remaining in the Palace is given the order to 'Slope Arms' and is referred to from this point as 'The King’s Guard.' The detachment then divides into two. Those responsible for guarding St. James's Palace, usually led by the remaining Regimental Band or Corps of Drums, march off down The Mall to place the Regimental Colour in the guardroom in Friary Court at St. James's Palace. The Buckingham Palace detachment of The King's Guard then retires to the Palace guardroom to assume its duties.

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Changing the Guard Schedule for London and Windsor

PUBLIC DUTIES

THE KING'S GUARD
BUCKINGHAM PALACE
at 11.00 am

DATE UNIT MUSICAL SUPPORT
Mon 19th February Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Scots Guards
Wed 21st February F Company Scots Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Scots Guards
Fri 23rd February 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Scots Guards
Sun 25th February F Company Scots Guards Band of the Scots Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Mon 26th February Number 12 Company Irish Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Pipes of Number 12 Company Irish Guards
Wed 28th February Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Scots Guards
Pipes of Number 12 Company Irish Guards
Fri 1st March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Band of the Scots Guards
Sun 3rd March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Scots Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Mon 4th March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
1st Battalion Welsh Guards Corps of Drums
Wed 6th March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Scots Guards
1st Battalion Welsh Guards Corps of Drums
Fri 8th March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Irish Guards
1st Battalion Welsh Guards Corps of Drums
Sun 10th March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Mon 11th March Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Wed 13th March Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Fri 15th March F Company Scots Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Sun 17th March Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Mon 18th March Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Wed 20th March Number 9 Company Irish Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Pipes of Number 12 Company Irish Guards
Fri 22nd March Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Sun 24th March Number 12 Company Irish Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Pipes of Number 12 Company Irish Guards
Mon 25th March Number 9 Company Irish Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Pipes of Number 12 Company Irish Guards
Wed 27th March F Company Scots Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Fri 29th March Number 12 Company Irish Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Sun 31st March F Company Scots Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards

THE WINDSOR CASTLE GUARD
at 11.00 am

DATE UNIT MUSICAL SUPPORT
Tue 20th February 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Thu 22nd February 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Sat 24th February Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Tue 27th February F Company Scots Guards 0800 Admin Mount
No Music or Ceremony
Thu 29th February 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Scots Guards
Sat 2nd March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Tue 5th March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Corps of Drums
Thu 7th Match 1st Battalion Welsh Guards 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Corps of Drums
Sat 9th March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Corps of Drums
Tue 12th March F Company Scots Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Thu 14th March Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Corps of Drums
Sat 16th March Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Tue 19th March Number 9 Company Irish Guards Pipes of Number 12 Company Irish Guards
Thu 21st March Number 12 Company Irish Guards Pipes of Number 12 Company Irish Guards
Sat 23rd March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Pipes of Number 12 Company Irish Guards
Tue 26th March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Thu 28th March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Sat 30th March 1st Battalion Welsh Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards

Click here for a printable version of the February 2024 schedules
Click
here for a printable version of the March 2024 schedules

Every reasonable effort has been made to compile accurate information about the Changing the Guard ceremony and to keep the schedule up to date.

Schedules can, and do, change from time to time, sometimes without notice particularly due to inclement weather.
This means that you cannot guarantee that Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle will take place on the stated dates.
This website cannot therefore accept any responsibility for loss or inconvenience caused by reliance on the information provided here.



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Watch the entire ceremony at Buckingham Palace


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