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Buckingham Palace: Changing of the Guard

As I mentioned in Friday's post, I'm revisiting a trip that I took to London and the surrounding area back when I was teaching in a homeschool program. 

Better late than never, right?! (Plus, the majority of these sites have looked the same for hundreds of years. I really doubt they've changed that significantly since the summer of 2012.)

Let's kick off the week with a behind-the-gates review of the Changing of the Guard. 

Yup, that's right. 


I got to watch the Changing of the Guards while leaning up against Buckingham Palace. The family that I went with knew a guy that knew a guy who was Prince Philip's personal secretary. Because of that tenuous link, we got to flit through the castle gates while all of the other tourists wondered who we were. 

We're close personal friends of the Queen, obviously. (Ha!)

I did dress up in a pretty nice sundress and trench coat (only in London would you need both a sundress and a trench coat at your immediate disposal), but, in the most horrible of oversights, forgot to wear my fascinator. Seriously, who goes to see the Queen and doesn't wear a jaunty little headband?

We had to arrive well before 11 a.m. in order to be out of the way when the Changing of the Guard occurred. Two other families stood with us (one of those women remembered her fascinator), and we were all instructed to stay against the building. 

Once the ceremony started, we were front and center. I have no clue what everyone else could see from behind the gates, as I've never gone to the Changing of the Guards before, but we were so close to the participants that I could see the details on their uniforms. We even got to see the Irish Greyhound that's a mascot for the Irish Guard: it was giant!

Changing of the Guard
Guess who's touching Buckingham Palace?!
 In classic London fashion, it rained and then stopped about five times during the forty-five minutes or so that we stood there. The kids were equally fascinated by the Changing of the Guard and worried that they were going to get sprinkled with rain, so I didn't have time to take many pictures during the ceremony.

I'm not sure how hard it is to get permission to stand against the Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard, but it was a great vantage point for such a well-known London event.

That being said, I can understand why I never made this a must-do before I went on this trip. The throngs of people outside of the gates were six and seven people deep and really couldn't see much of anything, especially once the Guards passed inside the gates to stand in the courtyard. I don't know if I'd be willing to give up enough time in my London vacation to wait for hours to get a good spot up against the gates for a prime view.

If you do go (and you don't have super awesome spots like we did), get there early for the best spots by the gates. And you must remember to wear your best fascinator!

Changing of the Guard
Look at all of those people waiting! Eeek. 
Have you ever been to the Changing of the Guard? What did you think about it?