Dating back to the reign of King Henry VII, and performed at Buckingham Palace since Queen Victoria took up residence in 1837,the world famous Changing of the Guard ceremony is performed to handover the responsibility for protecting both Buckingham Palace and St James’ Palace. The Queen’s Guard (Old Guard) passes the duty of protecting the Palace to the New Guard.
The New Guard march from Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace to replace the Old Guard. The ceremony is the formal hand over of responsibility from one regiment to another. During this element of the parade, the Mounting Band reforms into a horseshoe shape and performs a short concert.
The Royal Air Force first mounted guard at Buckingham Palace in April 1943, to mark their 25th anniversary.
The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is just one of the Public Duties undertaken by the UK’s Armed Forces. Public Duties also take place at:
- St James’s Palace
- Tower of London
- Windsor Castle
- Palace of Holyroodhouse
RAF Music Services is proud of two ‘firsts’ in the history of the Changing of the Guard:
- In September 1992, RAF Music Services hit the national headlines, when for the first time in the 155-year (then) history of the ceremony, the Central Band of the RAF marched onto the forecourt of Buckingham Palace to Change the Guard with 9 female Musicians in its ranks. Read more about the Winds of Change.
- Flight Sergeant Scott became the first female Drum Major of any Service to lead a military band during the world-renowned ceremony in February 2022. Read more about Great Scott!
Since 1974 the RAF has undertaken Public Duties at least once a year, with musical support provided by the RAF Bands.
Public Duties - quick-fire facts
- The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is the ceremony where the Queen's Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace and the Tower of London to the New Guard
- Dates: Daily in June-July, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from August-May
- Following a march by a detachment of the Old Guard from St. James's Palace and the New Guard from Wellington Barracks, the ceremony on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace starts at 11:00hrs and lasts for approximately 45 minutes
- Musical support is provided by two military bands, with pipers occasionally taking part in the ceremony
- Watching the Changing of the Guard is free of charge and no tickets are required
- Guards will not stop or march around people who are standing in the way or impeding their progress! The usual warning they shout out if someone is in the way is: "Make way for the Queen's Guard!"
- A Trumpeter from RAF Music Services sounds the Last Post at the Tower of London during the Ceremony of the Keys, thought to be the oldest ceremony in the world. Read more about The Secret of the Tower.