One of London’s FREE ceremonial events takes place every day at Horse Guards Parade.
Since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660, Life Guards have stood at Horse Guards which is the official entrance to St James and Buckingham Palace. Royal events take place here annually; Trooping the Colour and Beating Retreat in particular.
These events are like clockwork and you can set your watch to them – at 10:28 on weekdays and 09:28 on Sundays, the New Guard leaves Hyde Park Barracks to ride to Horse Guards Parade via Hyde Park Corner, then Constitution Hill and The Mall where they will perform the guard change ceremony aka Guard Mounting.
The ceremony lasts approx half an hour with the mounted sentries changing every hour or every half hour in very cold weather.
The Queen’s Life Guard change daily at 11:00 on weekdays and 10:00 on Sundays.
This ceremony; Changing the Queen’s Lifeguard, is not as well known as Changing the Guard that takes place at Buckingham Palace, and as a result you have smaller crowds and no railings, affording you a good view of the proceedings.
See the video here: The King’s Troops Royal Horse Artillery
At 16:00 a dismounting ceremony, known as the Four ‘O’ Clock Parade takes place within the Horse Guards building at which time the guards are inspected by an Officer after which the guards take the horses back to their stables for the night.
After that, 2 dismounted sentries stand guard at the entrance till 20:00 when the gates to Horse Guards are shut and one sentry then remains on duty till 07:00 at which time the gates will re-open.
The dismounting ceremony known as the Four ‘o’ Clock Parade was started way back in 1894 when Queen Victoria found the entire guard drinking and gambling while they were meant to be on duty. As punishment she instructed that they be inspected every day for the next 100 years at 4pm by an officer. Although that deadline passed in 1994, the reigning Queen of the time, Elizabeth II, wanted the parade to continue as part of the Royal tradition.
Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk
What to see in the area:
Statues and guns on the parade
St James’s Park
Churchill’s War Rooms
Whitehall and the various military statues and the Cenotaph