The Queen’s footguards have today changed back from their red summer tunics into their grey great coats for the autumn and winter months.
All summer, the guards had been parading in London in their famous red tunics and over the last week or so, the MoD tailors have had to work hard to ensure all the great coats still fit for all guardsmen to change into.
The grey great coats are used in the winter because of their larger length and also the thickness of the great coats is also greater, offering guardsmen and officers greater protection against the elements whilst on guard.
In September, the guards also reduced the schedule for changing the guard from daily to every other day as the summer months drew to a close. Changing the Guard currently alternates at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace with the guard change being on odd days at Buckingham Palace for October (1st, 3rd, 5th etc) and even days at Windsor Castle (2nd, 4th, 6th etc).
Whilst The Queen’s Guards are famous for their ceremonial duties, it’s also worth remembering they’re fully active serving soldiers who have most likely seen service in Afghanistan.
Being in one of the 5 regiments of footguards (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish or Welsh) means that half of what the guardsmen and officers do is ceremonial and half is operational. The Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards and Scots Guards do, however, have dedicated public duties companies (Nijmegen Company, No. 7 Company and F Company respectively).
Today, Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards are going on duty at Windsor Castle whilst Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards also stay on guard at Buckingham Palace.
The uniform the guards wear on ceremonial duties is an expensive set. The bearskin cap (made from culled Canadian bears) are one of the most expensive elements of the uniform, costing several hundreds of pounds per cap.
Despite modern army uniforms being known for their camouflage, when they were worn in battle, these uniforms were actually considered the height of military camouflage and technology. The bearskin caps added height to the soldier which made them more intimidating to the enemy, the curb chain (gold chain that goes around soldier’s face) protected the soldier from being struck in the face and the red tunic made it hard for enemy spotters in the distance to count the numbers of the force because from a distance, red blended into one colour.
Nowadays, the uniform is only worn on ceremonial occasions and the guards regiments wear normal combat gear like the rest of the army when not on ceremonial duties.