We're going to England and Scotland in July and only in London for three days. Is the changing of the guards worth it? There's so many other things to do and see. My neighbor said the Horse guard station has changing of the guards/horses too and it's just as nice with less crowds.
I agree with your neighbour
I'm not sure how you measure the worth of something like that - all you give up is time. If you want a less immersive experience there are places to stand that means you can just walk away at any time.
We went to Changing of the Guard on a group tour and I don't remember a thing about it. Clearly it made no impression on me. Since then, we've been on a trip to London with my in-laws and 3 trips with our daughter and have never been back to that time-waster. If you're interested in royalty, go to Windsor.
IMHO the Changing of The Guard at the Palace isn’t worth it.
The Horse Guards parade is more intriguing but remember you are visiting at the height of the tourist season. Go early to secure a good viewing spot.
One thing I learned is if you stand by the South African Artillery Memorial on the corner of The Mall and Horse Guards Road, the Horse Guards will pass by in route to the Palace.
One other bit of intel is if the Royal Standard flies above The Palace it means The King is in residence.
What I prefer to do is to walk along Birdcage Walk by Wellington Barracks and watch the New Guard form up, be inspected and to listen to the band for a bit until they get ready to march out and across to Buckingham Palace.
Here is a time schedule on how all the pieces work.
The hotel where I stay is on Ebury Street so it is very easy for me to be going by here at 1030-1040 or so on my way to somewhere.
Here is the googlemap showing you where Wellington Barracks are located and they form up on the forecourt on the Birdcage Walk side of the building.
I've also done the Horse Guards change in the distant past and have accidentally caught them clip-clopping along from Hyde Park Barracks. I believe they pass Buckingham Palace at 10:45. They exit the Barracks onto S. Carriage Drive and go along there to Wellington Arch, then along Green Park on Constitution Hill. I can't find the exact timings but am still looking, lol.
editing to add: OK, found the link with the timing for the Horse Guard or the King's Life Guard.
It’s a waste of time and hard to get a spot to actually see, IMHO.
Thank you all for your thoughts on this. Pam - thank you for the links. This is very helpful!
You are welcome. It helps me wrap my head around how to structure my day if I know the timings on things. And this being British Military they are accurate down to the minute! Just seeing them march or clip-clop by is fun! What I always like to see is the pagentry, not particularly the swap off of the actual guard.
We accidentally came upon the tail end of the Changing of the Guards at the Horse Guard station, or whatever they call it. The helmets were so bright, and the horses were just beautiful. I got some amazing pictures. I couldn't possibly tell you where we were, but it was amazing.
I wouldn't go out of my way to see it, but if the cards so fall, it is fantastic.
Much more interesting than the guards, foot or horse, would be a visit to Buckingham Palace itself, which opens July 14 for the summer. You need a timed entry. I spent at least a couple of hours there, including the garden (with a cafe), several years ago. The tall guys with the tall hats were out front, just not parading.
I've only seen the horse guard changing (a couple of times) and I can highly recommend it. There is no need to show up too early to get a good view. In fact, once I just stumbled upon it on a stroll across the city. I have never seen the bigger ceremony by Buckingham Palace though, so I have no basis of comparison.
Just popping in to thank Pam for her links to the Horse Guard parade, et al. So helpful! Thanks!
I have always liked it better - shining breastplates and horses, what's not to like?