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State & Ceremonial

A sense of normality – Changing of the Guard takes place for the first time in 17 months


Michael Garnett via Flickr CC

On Thursday, for the first time since March 2020, the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards performed the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle. The ceremony marks the moment when soldiers who are currently on duty, the Old Guard, exchange places with the New Guard.

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The Household Division of the Army carries out the Changing of the Guard along with other ceremonial and public duties such as Trooping the Colour, the State Opening of Parliament, and mounting the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace. Since the global health crisis began, all ceremonial activities have stopped to avoid public gatherings.

There were some exceptions while the traditional ceremonies did not take place. During the lockdowns, an ‘Administrative Guard Mount’ was in operation where soldiers took up their sentry duty positions but there was no ceremony as the guards changed over. When they weren’t guarding royal residences, guards helped to man COVID testing sites, vaccine centres across the country, and carry out operational training. Grenadier Guardsmen also took part in the revised version of The Queen’s official Birthday Parade staged at Windsor Castle, and they played a key role in the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh.

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The ceremony, also known as Guard Mounting as been carried out since 1660 as soldiers in their famous bearskin hats and red tunics guard the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces. In 1837 when Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Guard remained at St James’s Palace with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace similar to what is still done today. Accompanied by a full military band, the ceremony is both a colourful military tradition, and an important reminder of the close relationship between the Armed Forces, and their Head, The Queen.

Arrangements for the ceremony to resume at Buckingham Palace will be made in due course. If you are interested in watching the changing for yourself in person, below are the ceremony times for each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at Windsor Castle. In the event of wet weather, the march or musical support can be canceled.

Timing:

10:45 – New Guard step off from Victoria Barracks on Sheet Street and march through the Town Centre to Windsor Castle.

11:00 – The Changing the Guard Ceremony then takes place inside Windsor Castle .

11:25 – The Old Guard step off for the march back to the barracks.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.