The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is so famous that it was immortalised in a poem by A. A. Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh stories, who was once a soldier himself. The words have also been set to music, being recorded as a children’s song.

The current Buckingham Palace guards date back to long before it became the official Royal residence. Henry VI was the first King to be protected by a Royal guard, and every monarch thereafter has had one.

The Changing of the Guard ceremony previously took place at the Palace of Whitehall and St James’s Palace, and moved to Buckingham Palace with Queen Victoria in 1837. 

Here is all you need to know if you want to see Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard – a truly unique, momentous and thoroughly British spectacle. 

Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.
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Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace FAQs

Is the Changing of the Guard every day?

Normally the Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place every other day, but this can vary. You can check directly with the Household Division website, home of the British Army regiments who serve the Royal family. 

How often do the guards change at Buckingham Palace?

Each guard will spend two hours on duty before switching over. As well as periods of standing still, the guard will march back and forth from time to time.  

What day is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace? 

Typically the ceremony takes place on the palace forecourt on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am, but do check before you travel. 

Guards at Buckingham Palace.

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace Tips

Closest underground stations to Buckingham Palace

The nearest tube stations to Buckingham Palace are Victoria, Green Park, St. James’s Park and Hyde Park Corner. Mainline and national trains call at Victoria rail station.

The Great British weather

Like just about every person in Britain, the guards outside Buckingham Palace are often adversely affected by the weather. The ceremony can be called off even at the last minute, so it’s well worth having a backup plan in mind before you go.

Beware of pickpockets

While London is a relatively safe city, it does have its fair share of chancers and criminals. Make sure your belongings are secure, as such people do tend to target large crowds. We recommend using a pickpocket-proof cross body bag like this when travelling in London.

Time your visit

Everyone wants to see the Buckingham guards handover – so it’s always busy. If you want to get up close, get there early, but waiting 45 minutes or more before anything happens is pretty boring. Around 15 minutes before is enough for most to witness the switchover between the old and new guards.  

Look out for the flying flag

If the monarch is in residence and the Royal flag is flying, the number of Buckingham Palace soldiers is increased accordingly.

Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.

6 of the best Changing of the Guard tours in London

The Changing of the Guard walking tour

  • Duration: 2 – 3 hours
  • Departure time: 10.30 
  • Departure point: Duke of York Column, Waterloo Place, near Piccadilly Circus tube
  • What’s included: Guided walking tour
  • Not included: Lunch

This walking tour is ideal for those who want to learn the stories and history behind this British tradition. As your guide is very familiar with every movement the guards will make, you can also walk in step alongside as the guards at Buckingham Palace complete the changeover.

In addition to telling you all about the soldiers and the ceremony, your guide will also walk you through the history of the Royal family and their residences. Not least, these experts are experienced in navigating the inevitable crowds quickly and easily, and of course, they know all the finest vantage points for the photographs you’ll want to take of this iconic moment. 

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Changing of the Guard and Buckingham Palace walking tour

  • Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Departure time: Times and dates vary 
  • Departure point: Duke of York Column, Waterloo Place, near Piccadilly Circus tube
  • What’s included: Guided walking tour, Buckingham Palace entry, headsets
  • Not included: Lunch

In a maximum group size of 25, this tour takes you to see the State Rooms of the Royal residence as well as the ceremony involving the switchover of the soldiers outside Buckingham Palace. As these are not open all the time, this tour only operates on a limited number of days per year, so early booking is advised.

It’s also worth noting that if your tour takes place on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, then you’d normally get to see the changeover of the cavalry on Horse Guards Parade, which is an equally impressive spectacle involving soldiers mounted on horseback.

Inside Buckingham Palace you can marvel at some of the most exquisite French and English furniture to be found anywhere, as well as a fine collection of Sèvres porcelain and sparkling chandeliers. Your guide will of course explain the history behind each piece as you go, so you can put all this grandeur into context.

Click to book the Changing of the Guard and Buckingham Palace walking tour

Buckingham Palace.

One day London tour with river cruise and the Changing of the Guard

  • Duration: 1 day
  • Departure time: Times and dates vary 
  • Departure point: Victoria Coach Station, near Victoria tube and train stations
  • What’s included: Tour of London, Tower of London entry, Thames river cruise
  • Not included: Lunch

If you have just one day to see as many highlights of London as possible, then this could be the tour for you. It allows you to take in Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London as well as a Thames River Cruise and the changing of either the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace or on Horse Guards Parade (depending on the day).

You can also see sights such as Big Ben and Parliament Square en route while you travel by luxury coach around the British capital. Inside the Tower of London, you can gasp over the glittering Crown Jewels, and the day also includes the option to enjoy a traditional British pub lunch (at your own expense). 

It’s a packed itinerary, starting at Parliament Square and Big Ben before heading west to see Buckingham Palace and the Queen’s Guard change. Next up is Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, London’s theatreland and Piccadilly Circus. 

A guided tour of the world-famous St. Paul’s Cathedral is next, while your guide explains how it was restored after the Great Fire of London. The Tower of London, complete with its iconic Beefeaters, is the final stop before boarding your river cruise to Westminster Pier. 

Click to book the one day London tour with river cruise and Changing of the Guard

Private Changing of the Guard and Royal London tour

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Departure time: Times and date by arrangement 
  • Departure point: Pickup from any London location within zones 1 – 3
  • What’s included: Pickup and drop-off, personal tour guide, luxury Mercedes
  • Not included: Attraction entry, lunch, child seats

If you’d prefer to take a private tour of London with your very own dedicated guide, then you can book on to this trip which includes travel by luxury Mercedes.

Your personal guide for the four-hour duration will whisk you around the Westminster area and the West End so you can see sights such as Big Ben, Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square.

Visitors can also witness the Buckingham guard change at the palace, where the regimental soldiers belonging to the Household Division will stay straight-faced no matter how noisy the crowd or windy the weather.

The pomp and ceremony includes full Royal regalia and rousing military music, and your guide can give you fascinating insights into this British tradition along the way.

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Welcome to London tour with the Crown Jewels and the Changing of the Guard

  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure time: Check in by 7.30 am for 7.45 start
  • Departure point: Victoria Coach Station, near Victoria tube and train stations
  • What’s included: Luxury coach, guide, Tower of London entry, Thames river cruise
  • Not included: Lunch

This tour sets off early in the morning so you can experience a full 8.5 hour day of London sightseeing. Along the way you’ll take in famous London landmarks like the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben before heading to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels and other notable sights like the White Tower.

The coach will then take you to St James’s Palace so you can watch the guards as they march from there to Buckingham Palace, ready for the famous ceremony to begin. When this is not scheduled to take place, you will still get to see the Royal residence.

A private Thames cruise allows you to see Shakespeare’s Globe and to catch your first glimpse of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which you’ll tour during the afternoon after free time to grab some lunch wherever you like. 

After the cathedral tour the day ends at South Bank, where you can wander at leisure among the shops, eateries, bars and entertainers.  

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‘Take Walks’ Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard tour

  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Departure time: 9.45am
  • What’s included: Local guide, max group size 15
  • Not included: Lunch

Brand new in April 2022, this tour is a little different from the norm. It’s local-led, and visitors get to see two Changing of the Guard ceremonies. In addition, you’ll get to see Clarence House and St. James’s Palace, two more prominent British Royal residences.

During the day your guide will pass on all sorts of intriguing pieces of information, such as the meaning behind various military symbols and the story of those whose job it is to look after the Royal family. 

This is a short but in-depth and interesting tour of the Royal palaces, their guards and what it all means. 

Click to book the Take Walks Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard tour

LONDON-ITINERARY

How will you witness the Changing of the Guard?

Seeing the British guards at Buckingham Palace is a must on many a London visitor’s list, and if you plan carefully you really can make the most of this iconic spectacle.

Whether you opt to take a tour or go your own way, this truly is a sight not to be missed – and one that’s steeped in both Royal and military history. 

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