St. James’s Palace in London has been a home to Kings and Queens of England for more than 300 years and currently is the London home to Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Alexandra. While you can’t tour the Palace, you can visit to see the changing of the guard at St. James’s Palace at Friary Court.
One thing on everyone’s must-do list for London is the Changing of the Guard.
There are three locations where the public can witness the ceremony for free in London: Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, and Wellington Barracks.
You can also see it at Windsor Castle but you would have to have a ticket to see it fully.
While many go to Buckingham Palace to see this ceremony, you should consider going to see it at Friary Court.
Changing of the Guard at St. James’s Palace
Changing of the Guard (or Guard Mounting) is the ceremony where The Queen’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the New Guard.
The St. James’s Detachment of The Queen’s Guard mounts daily in Friary Court.
Changing of the Guard Ceremony Schedule
10:30: New Guard form up on the parade square at Wellington Barracks for inspection while the Band accompanying them plays a selection of music.
10:43: St. James’s Palace Detachment of the Old Guard steps off for Buckingham Palace. (Sentries remain at their post until replaced by a part of the New Guard).
You can see the Old Guard being inspected, and when present, hear the St James Palace Band, from Marlborough Road from just before 10:25.
10:45: Household Cavalry ride past Buckingham Palace on their way to mount The Queen’s Life Guard at Horse Guards.
10:57: The New Guard step off, from Wellington Barracks, for Buckingham Palace.
11:00: Official start time for the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. It begins on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace following a march by a detachment of the Old Guard, with musical support from St. James’s Palace and the New Guard led by a Regimental Band from Wellington Barracks.
11:10: St. James’s Palace relief leaves Buckingham Palace.
11:25: St. James’s Palace contingent, of the Old Guard, leaves Friar Court.
11:37: The Old Guard of The Queen’s Life Guard rides past on their way back to Hyde Park Barracks.
11:40: Old Guard leaves Buckingham Palace for Wellington Barracks.
11:45: St. James’s Palace Detachment of The Queen’s Guard leaves Buckingham Palace. The Buckingham Palace Detachment of The Queen’s Guard then retire to the guardroom.
Tips for Seeing Changing of the Guard Ceremony at St. James’s Palace
- Viewing the St James Palace Changing of the Guard Ceremony is free.
- Make sure that you arrive prior to the ceremony to get the best viewing spot.
- Check the calendar before you go so you will know what days they will be having the ceremony (it varies seasonally).
- Do not stand in the way of the Guards when you are trying to take photos and do not get too close to them at any time. They will give you a warning if you are too close by shouting “Make way for The King’s Guard.”
- Booking this small group walking tour will allow you to get the history of the ceremony from a guide that will get you where you need to be on time.
It is easy to see why people from throughout the world line up to see the pomp & circumstance of the Changing of the Guard.
It is full of tradition and steeped in a long, beautiful history.
Have you seen the Changing of the Guard at St James Palace? What was your impression?