• 2018.11.07
  • The Changing of the guard and the Ceremony of the keys
Everyone knows that the Royal Family lives in London (well, most of the time) and more precisely at Buckingham Palace.
The changing of the guard at London’s Buckingham Palace is a truly suggestive ceremony that takes place every day around 11:30am from April to August, while in autumn and winter it is held every two days.
In order to keep the royal family (if present) and the royal palace protected at the time of the replacement of the guard, a department of the Household Cavalry, the guards on horseback of the queen, departs from the Wellington Barracks to go to the Horse Guards posts, passing in front of Buckingham Palace in coincidence with the changing of the guards on foot.
The surveillance of the palace is entrusted to five regiments of the Royal Guard on foot (Infantry): the Scots Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Grenadiers, the Irish Guards and the Welsh Guards who wear the famous Changing-of-the-Guard London outfit with bear fur coats and red jackets.
The two cavalry regiments are the Life Guards (in red and white uniforms) and the Blue Royal Guards (in blue and white uniforms). “God Save the Queen” is the hymn played on this occasion.
The changing of the guard takes place in two different places: at the front of the Palace to replace the infantry and on the back, except for the days of heavy rain.
The cavalry instead makes the change of guard in the Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, where 12 guards on horseback, coming from the barracks of Hyde Park, give the change to the guards at the end of the shift.
The Royal Mews (royal stables) are located in the southern corner of Buckingham Palace park and they can also be visited by the public. There you can admire carriages of all kinds, once used by the English royals and by the nobles, and still used today on special occasions.
Horses are also housed there, but they are not always there.
Worthy of note is the gilded coach built for George III and now used only during coronations, the glass chariot purchased by Giorgio V and now used on royal wedding occasions (the one they used for the royal weddings of Prince William and Kate and Prince Henry and Meghan).
You can also admire some modern Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Jaguar used by the Queen for her visits.
If you like military parades and traditions in England we have the most beautiful parades such as the Beating Retreat ceremony that takes place over three nights during the parade of the mounted guards, with band, drums and bagpipes.
For the Queen's official birthday you can watch a condensation of changing of the guard and the horse parade with a band, a parade of the guards on horseback together with an acrobatic team and all patriotic English people who come participate at the ceremony along the Mall, the big avenue which connects Buckingham Palace to the city.

Buckingham Palace and guards

Another important royal event in London is the Key Ceremony done by the Guardian of the Tower of London (the guardians are called Yeomen Warders), in vintage Tudor clothes, who officially closes the access gate and delivers the Queen's keys to the Director who resides there.
There is also an exchange with a sentinel that ends with the final blessing to Queen Elizabeth.
The solemn rite, which has been repeated every night for 700 years at 5 to 9 in the evening is free, but to participate, you must book with a written request.
It is obviously a very suggestive ceremony which is very popular among tourists but, at least once in a lifetime, every good Londoner attends it to pay tribute to the Queen.

Key Ceremony Tower of London


  • GianFranco Belloli
  • Jobblogger/musician

I moved to London over 2 years ago but only last year I started writing for a local newsletter for Expats in London telling about my experience in this big city and giving advice to newcomers. London is a very dynamic city and has a lot for everyone but it’s important to have a local point of view to navigate it without getting lost. Let me be your guide to hidden London!

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