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 day in the spring and summer months and reverts to every other day during autumn and winter.

 


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 Queen'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 Queen'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.

Her Majesty The Queen 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. Pipers occasionally accompanying the Old Guard 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 Queen’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 Queen's Guard then retires to the Palace guardroom to assume its duties.

 

Changing the Guard Schedule for London and Windsor

BUCKINGHAM PALACE GUARD
at 11.00 am

DATE UNIT MUSICAL SUPPORT
Fri 1st July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Sat 2nd July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Scots Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Sun 3rd July 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Mon 4th July Queen's Colour Squadron Royal Air Force Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Mount)
Band of the Welsh Guards (Full Dismount)
Tue 5th July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards (Full Mount)
Band of the Grenadier Guards (Full Dismount)
Wed 6th July Queen's Colour Squadron Royal Air Force Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Mount)
Band of the Grenadier Guards (Full Dismount)
Thu 7th July F Company Scots Guards Band of the Irish Guards (Full Mount)
Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Dismount)
Fri 8th July Queen's Colour Squadron Royal Air Force Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Mount)
Band of the Irish Guards (Full Dismount)
Sat 9th July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Scots Guards (Full Mount)
Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Dismount)
Sun 10th July Queen's Colour Squadron Royal Air Force Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Mount)
Band of the Scots Guards (Full Dismount)
Mon 11th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards (Full Mount)
Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Dismount)
Tue 12th July Queen's Colour Squadron Royal Air Force Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Mount)
Band of the Household Cavalry (Full Dismount)
Wed 13th July F Company Scots Guards Band of the Irish Guards (Full Mount)
Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Dismount)
Thu 14th July Queen's Colour Squadron Royal Air Force Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Mount)
Band of the Grenadier Guards (Full Dismount)
Fri 15th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards (Full Mount)
Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Dismount)
Sat 16th July Queen's Colour Squadron Royal Air Force Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Mount)
Band of the Coldstream Guards (Full Dismount)
Sun 17th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards (Full Mount)
Central Band of the Royal Air Force (Full Dismount)
Mon 18th July F Company Scots Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Tue 19th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Band of the Household Cavalry
Wed 20th July 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Grenadier Guards
Thu 21st July 1st Battalion Irish Guards Band of the Irish Guards
(No St. James's Palace Band)
Fri 22nd July 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Band of the Grenadier Guards
Sat 23rd July F Company Scots Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Sun 24th July 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Honourable Artillery Company Corps of Drums
Mon 25th July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Tue 26th July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Grenadier Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Wed 27th July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Irish Guards
Band of the Coldstream Guards
Thu 28th July F Company Scots Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Band of the Irish Guards
Fri 29th July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Welsh Guards
Sat 30th July 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Coldstream Guards
Band of the Grenadier Guards
Sun 31st July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums

WINDSOR CASTLE GUARD
at 11.00 am

DATE UNIT MUSICAL SUPPORT
Fri 1st July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Sat 2nd July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Sun 3rd July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards No Music or Ceremony
Mon 4th July F Company Scots Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Tue 5th July 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Wed 6th July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Thu 7th July 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Fri 8th July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Sat 9th July F Company Scots Guards 1st Battalion Irish Guards Drums or Pipes
Sun 10th July F Company Scots Guards No Music or Ceremony
Mon 11th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards 1st Battalion Irish Guards Drums or Pipes
Tue 12th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards 1st Battalion Irish Guards Drums or Pipes
Wed 13th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards 1st Battalion Irish Guards Drums or Pipes
Thu 14th July 7 Company Coldstream Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Fri 15th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards 1st Battalion Irish Guards Drums or Pipes
Sat 16th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards 1st Battalion Irish Guards Drums or Pipes
Sun 17th July 7 Company Coldstream Guards No Music or Ceremony
Mon 18th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards 1st Battalion Irish Guards Drums or Pipes
Tue 19th July 1st Battalion Irish Guards 1st Battalion Irish Guards Drums or Pipes
Wed 20th July F Company Scots Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Thu 21st July 1st Battalion Irish Guards 1st Battalion Irish Guards Drums or Pipes
Fri 22nd July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Sat 23rd July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Household Cavalry
Sun 24th July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards No Music or Ceremony
Mon 25th July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Tue 26th July F Company Scots Guards 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Wed 27th Juily 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Thu 28th July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Fri 29th July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
Sat 30th July Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards Band of the Welsh Guards
Sun 31st July 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards No Music or Ceremony

Recommendations for those planning to attend are:

As with any major event or attraction take a rapid lateral flow test before going to help keep everyone safe
Anyone who tests positive should not travel and follow Government advice to isolate
If someone in your household has had a positive test result, or if you are told to self-isolate, please do not come to Guard Change.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 please do not come to Guard Change
Wear face coverings in busy or enclosed areas
Carry a hand sanitiser and sanitise your hands frequently

Click here for a printable version of the July 2022 schedules



Take a walking tour and see Changing the Guard from start to finish.
Understand the history and meaning behind the ceremony, and have fun along the way!

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More detailed information on Changing the Guard

and at

http://www.changing-the-guard.com/


Watch the entire ceremony at Buckingham Palace


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