I don’t know what it is about pomp and circumstance that we love so much, but we do.  If you want to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, you really have to commit.  Because it is a zoo.  I got to the gates outside the palace at 10am this morning and I still didn’t get a spot right at the gate.  The ceremony starts at 11:15, and especially in the summer, I recommend getting there by 9 if you want to be able to see anything at all.

So today was more of a reconnaissance mission than anything.  Scoping out the grounds, plotting my move for the next go.  :)

There are really two events that make up the ceremony – the entry of the horse guard, and the actual changing inside the palace gates.  You have to decide which is more important to you because you most likely will not be able to see both.

The horse guard enters the huge circular drive to the palace with a marching band and soldiers.  To see this you need to grab a spot directly behind any of the barricades that line the drive.  The police are very strict about making sure everyone is standing behind these barricades, so there’s no such thing as trying to stand out in front of them (I tried).  But there was one spot that looked especially sweet to me.  As you walk toward the palace gates, with the palace on your right, you’ll see another set of golden gates ahead of you and to the left.  To the right of these gates there’s a low wall where a bunch of people were sitting.  Great view of the grand entry!  Don’t think you’d be able to see the Changing of the Guard very well, but like I said, you kind of have to choose.

If you want to see the actual changing, though – and I’ve decided I really do – you have to get up early and grab your spot right at the gate.  Especially if you’re a shorty like me, you’re just not going to be able to see over all those people in front of you.  Plus there’s a little ledge going around the gate where you can sit down while you wait.  My plan is to get there by 9 next time, take a good book and a drink, and get a spot right up against the wrought iron!

When I first got there and saw all the crowds forming, I wondered whether all the waiting was really worth it.  But after watching the soldiers on duty inside the gates for awhile, and seeing the horse guard enter, I think it is.  Pomp and circumstance – there’s just something about it.  I remember when I was in the Navy how grand it felt to be marching in parade, especially during graduation when I saw my Mom and brother watching.  My heart just swelled with pride.  And seeing those soldiers standing there on guard was kind of special.  Seems a little pointless that they have to be so formal and ritualistic about it (especially when there’s also a policewoman slouching around the gate with an automatic), but it was intriguing.  They look so smart in their uniforms - those hats, the weird shoes with the super-thick soles, almost like clogs.  Every few minutes they would change position, or march up and down the pavement, and I loved watching them.  I think they must do that to exercise their legs.  In the Navy we had to stand at attention for a few hours sometimes, in HIGH HEELS, and people sometimes passed out.  So I think it’s lovely of the Queen to give the guys a break now and then.

Anyway, I decided not to stay for the actual Changing of the Guard because my spot was right behind two very tall guys and it just wasn’t worth it to me when I knew I’d be straining to see anything.

So stay tuned for Part 2!


08/03/2013 8:34am

I'm glad you've decided to see Changing of the Guard! Yes, it's touristy...but it's so iconic. Reminds me of the Macy's Day Parade: I've been to it only once, in all the years I've lived in NYC. The crowds were dense and maddening. It was bitter cold and I was miserable. BUT....I can always say, "Yes, I've been to the Macy's Day Parade!" (That said, once was quite enough, lol!) Smart move to take a book and just get into the Zen of it!

08/03/2013 12:14pm

Yeah, I think it's worth it. And something about not getting to see it this time makes it a challenge I have to conquer. :)


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