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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Changing of the Guard, St. James Park, Horse Guards, The Queens Life Guard

Changing of the Guard

The privilege of guarding the Sovereign traditionally belongs to the Household Troops, better known as ‘the Guards’, who have carried out this duty since 1660. For operational and other reasons, this privilege is periodically extended to other regiments of the British Army. The Guards consist of five infantry regiments - the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards - and two regiments of the Household Cavalry – the Life Guards and Blues and Royals. Most of the Guards will have seen action overseas.

During the Changing the Guard ceremony, also known as ‘Guard Mounting’, one regiment takes over from another. The Queen’s Guard consists of the St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace detachments. The New Guard, who during the course of the ceremony become The Queen’s Guard, march to Buckingham Palace from Wellington Barracks.

Carried out by soldiers on active duty from the Foot Guards who have guarded the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces since 1660, the sight of their famous bearskin hats and red tunics is indelibly linked with Buckingham Palace and the British Monarchy.

The ceremony is both a colourful military tradition and an important reminder of the close relationship between the Armed Forces and their Head: The Queen.

Household Troops have guarded the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces since 1660. When Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace in 1837, the Queen's Guard remained at St James's Palace, with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace, as it still does today. The Changing of the Guard ceremony marks the moment when the soldiers currently on duty, the Old Guard, exchange places with the New Guard.

The guard duties are normally provided by a battalion of the Household Division, but also sometimes by other infantry battalions or units. For example, around the time of the Queen's Coronation in 1953, soldiers from Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Ceylon and Pakistan all participated in the Changing of the Guard. More recently, the Guard was provided by the Jamaica Regiment in 2007, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment in 2012, and a Royal Regiment from Canada in 2014.

A sentry will be on duty "at their post" for a two-hour period. Every 10 minutes, he comes to attention, slopes arms and does a march of 15 paces across the area of the post. Each sentry will do this four to five times before halting. He will then shoulder arms and stand at ease. Standing "easy" is not permitted while a sentry is at post. Orders for sentry duty read out before each 2 hour 'tour of duty', make it clear to each individual that: "you may not eat, sleep, smoke, stand easy, sit or lie down during your tour of duty"

Sentries receive instruction on how to eliminate nuisance or any suggestion of threat from members of the public. There is a protocol they follow which begins with "stamping" (coming to attention sharply). He will also shout: "Stand back from the Queen's Guard" or similar. If this does not eliminate the nuisance or threat he will repeat the stamp and shout again. If the nuisance or threat still does not cease the sentry will assume the position of "port arms" whereby he points his rifle at the source of the interference with his duties. If these warnings are not heeded the sentry then has the choice of detaining the person(s) himself or pressing the button in his sentry box to summon assistance.

If a person or persons step in front of a sentry while he is marching he will shout: "Make way for the Queen's Guard!" (Or Castle guard/Tower of London guard/Windsor Castle guard etc.)

In April 2007, the first serving women in the British Army served on detachments of the Queen's Guard when the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery took over the guard at Windsor Castle, while the Army Air Corps took on public duties in London.

This was not the first occasion that women have provided the Queen's Guard. In 2000, the Australian Federation Guard performed public duties in London for a month, and included several women amongst its number. Female officers were also among the contingent of Royal Canadian Mounted Police members who formed the guard in May 2012.

The Queen Victoria Memorial

The Queen Victoria Memorial is located in front of Buckingham Palace and it is comprised of the Dominion Gates (Canada Gate, Australia Gate and South and West Africa Gates), the Memorial Gardens and a vast central monument commemorating the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.

The monument is 25 meters high and uses 2,300 tons of white Carrara marble. As well as Victoria, there are statues representing courage, constancy, victory, charity, truth and motherhood.

The central monument, created between 1906 and 1924, is by Sir Thomas Brock, but the whole design, including the Memorial Gardens, was conceived by Sir Aston Webb. The Memorial was formally unveiled by King George V in 1911.

The gates, piers, balustrades and retaining walls of the Memorial Gardens are all protected landmarks.

Memorial Gardens

The Memorial Gardens were created in 1901 as part of Sir Aston Webb's a Verfall design for a memorial to Queen Victoria after her death that year.

The formal flowerbeds are laid out in a semi-circular design around the central memorial and are a familiar sight during the many of the famous processions and ceremonies that take place in this area.

The planting schedule follows a traditional seasonal pattern that is repeated each year. Each planting takes approximately 2 weeks and involves up to ten staff.

Replanting of the beds in summer requires approximately 22,500 plants, including geraniums, spider plants, salvias and weeping figs. Scarlet geraniums are used to match the tunics of The Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace.

In winter time, the beds are filled with about 50,000 yellow wallflowers and red tulips.

St. James Park

Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit St James's Park, the oldest of the capital's eight Royal Parks.

The park includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade and is at the heart of ceremonial London, providing the setting for spectacular pageants including the annual Trooping the Color.

Wildlife at St. James Park

St James's Park, the first of The Royal Parks to be opened to the public, provides habitats for a variety of different species. A short walk away from three palaces (St James's, Westminster and Buckingham Palaces) and in the heart of historical London, the park welcomes over 5.5 million visitors every year and is one of the most visited parks in Europe. This heavy use inevitably has an impact on the wildlife in the area, yet it can be surprising to some how much can live and grow alongside humans.

One of the key habitats in St James's Park is the lake. It is home to a wide range of bird life (including 15 different species of waterfowl) and has nesting sites on Duck Island and West Island.

The secluded shrubberies and the woodlands on the islands are important refuges for birds such as long-tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, robin, blackbird, wren, great spotted woodpecker and tawny owl, all of which breed in St James's Park.

Although the park has foxes, Wood Mice and Brown Rats are largely active at night and it is the Grey Squirrel is the most likely mammal for visitors to see. This species was introduced from North America and has replaced our native Red Squirrel throughout much of the UK. Nevertheless, their athletic antics and begging for food are a constant source of entertainment to visitors. Yes, I saw the squirrel and not any rodent!!!!!!

St James's Park is a really great place to watch bats as dusk falls. About 20 minutes after sunset, dozens of Common Pipistrelles begin to forage for insects around the lake edge. Each of these bats may consume around 3000 mosquitoes and other small insects per night - so they are doing us a big favor. In autumn 2005, a Nathusius' Pipistrelle was also recorded near Duck Island, a rare find for Central London. Bats hibernate over winter - so the availability of undisturbed roosts in the buildings and trees in and around the park is of vital importance to them.

Horse Guards

Horse Guards is a large historical building in the Palladian style in between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade. The first Horse Guards building was built on the site of the former tiltyard of Westminster Palace during 1664. It was demolished during 1749 and was replaced by the current building which was built between 1750 and 1753 by John Vardy after the death of original architect William Kent during 1748. Horse Guards Road runs north-south on the western boundary of the parade ground, while Horse Guards Avenue runs east from Whitehall on other side of the building, to Victoria Embankment.

The building served as the office of the Commander-in Chief of the Forces until 1904 when the job was abolished and replaced by the Chief of the General Staff. The Chief of the General staff was relocated to the Old War Office Building during 1906 and Horse Guards subsequently became the headquarters of two major Army commands: the London District and the Household Cavalry. The building is the formal entrance to St. James Palace via St. James Park (though this is now entirely symbolic). Only the monarch is allowed to drive through its central archway, or those given a pass (formerly made of ivory).

The Queen's Life Guard

The Queens Life Guard is the mounted guard at the entrance to Horse Guards. Horse Guards is the official main entrance to both St James' Palace and Buckingham Palace (a tradition that stems from the time when The Mall was closed at both ends); however, sentries have been posted there since the Restoration, when the Palace of Whitehall was the main royal residence. The guard is on horseback from 10am until 4pm, with the two sentries changing every hour. From 4pm until 8pm a pair of dismounted sentries remain. At 8pm, the gates of Horse Guards are locked, and a single sentry remains until 7am.

When The Queen is in London, the Guard consists of 1 officer, 1 corporal major (who carries the standard), 2 non-commissioned officers, 1 trumpeter and 11 troopers. This is known as a Long Guard. When Her Majesty is not resident in London, the Guard is reduced to 2 non-commissioned officers and 10 troopers. This is known as a Short Guard.

The guard is usually provided by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, with the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals alternating. When the HCMR leaves London for a month of summer training (and vacation for the horses), the guard is provided by the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. Only two other regiments have had the honor of mounting the Queen's Life Guard; in 2000, the Mounted Troop of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), a regiment of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, mounted the Queen's Life Guard during the same deployment as The Royal Canadian Regiment provided the Queen's Guard. In 2012, as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Musical Ride of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police mounted the Queen's Life Guard for a day in May 2012, becoming the first non-military unit to do so.

Changing The Queen's Life Guard

At the time of Guard Changing, the Old Guard forms up on the north side of the enclosure on Horse Guards Parade and the New Guard on the south side. As the New Guard arrives, each Guard carries the Standard and the Trumpeters of both Old and New Guards sound the Royal Salute on the arrival of the New Guard and on the departure of the Old Guard. When both Guards have formed up in the enclosure, the Corporal Major, Senior NCO and the sentries of the first relief of the New Guard leave for the Guard Room which is then handed over. The sentries of the Old Guard, after being relieved, rejoin the remainder of the Old Guard on the north side of the enclosure. The Standard and Trumpeters are only on parade with a Long Guard.

When we left this morning, the doorman said it would start raining around 2 PM. He was spot on. What do you do when it rains? Of course, check out Harrods.

We stopped for a mini afternoon tea at Jamie Oliver's restaurant, Barbecoa. We had the Sweet Tea: Barbecoa special blend breakfast tea which was served with currant scones, clotted cream, fresh made rhubarb and strawberry jam. It was enough to tide us over until dinner.


We went back to Veeraswamy for dinner. Well, it is our favorite Indian restaurant!

We were the first people at the restaurant and to our surprise the hostess and both managers recognized us and called us by name.

Michael and I decided on the Grand Platter to Share: angara chicken tikka, tandoori green prawn, venison mutts kebab. So delicious!!

In commemoration of Veeraswamy's 90th anniversary year and HM Queen Elizabeth's 90th year, we tried one of the Indian Royal Recipes. We had the Darbar Murgh Korma from the mughal kitchens: boneless chicken breast in almond and saffron sauce with edible silver leaf. We also shared Roast Duck Vindaloo half creedy carver duck, slow roasted with vindaloo masala- authentic goan recipe. We had basmati rice and naan. I don't have words to describe this meal!!

We decided to walk back to our hotel. We were full but not overstuffed.

We walked 7.1 miles today. No wonder my feet are tired. It's shower time and then off to bed.

Another day quickly flies by!!!

I don't know why but when Michael posts the pictures they are in reverse order. It's like having the day on rewind. Crazy!!! So, as not to be confused, start at the bottom.

Michael had decided to have a contest to see if his Facebook friends could answer a question. Well, no one answered. In fact, no one even liked the picture.

So... I'm going to have a raffle for a box of shortbread. Here is what you have to do to be entered into the raffle.

Send an email to and tell me what you enjoyed reading about. It can be a place, a picture, food, etc. It doesn't matter. I have to receive your entry by 8 AM London time on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. London is 5 hours ahead of Eastern, 6 hours of Central, 7 hours Mountain and 8 hours Pacific. Sarah, I don't know Okinawa time.

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