Royal and Ceremonial London, London
I think that the Horse Guards put on a much better show than the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Because of this, I've ranked them as #8 on my "Top 10 Things to do in London" list. With the Horse Guards, you can get much more "up close and personal" to the action. You're not 20 people deep in a crowd trying to catch of glimpse of the guards. Plus, I love horses. So, combining the pomp and circumstance of the changing of the guards with the beauty and grace of horses, and voila, you have a winner!
All the horses are this deep chocolate brown (almost black) with black mane and tail. The guards are all dressed in red or black with these amazing gold helmets. The contrasts are striking. The building of the Horse Guards fronts the old Palace of Whitehall, and the changing of the horse guards has taken place here since 1649. Within the area that they perform the ceremony there are several "antique" cannons and some interesting statues.
The changing of the horse guards begins everyday at 11 AM (but Sunday--10:30 AM). They'll post a sign if it's been cancelled or temporarily postponed for the day. The day that my mom and I tried to see the Horse Guards in May 2008, their ceremony had been cancelled but they were still holding inspections that afternoon at 4 PM. We unfortunately weren't able to make it back in time to see it. The pictures posted were from my trip with my husband in Feb 2003.
The history of the Horse Guards began in the early 16th century, when Henry VIII commissioned a jousting ground on the present site of the Horse Guards building off Whitehall. A century later, Charles II established the Horse Guards as a trusted royal miliary guard and built its first building to house over a hundred horses. The Horse Guards are divided into the Household Cavalry and Foot Guards (or Tiltyard Guards), and wear a distinctive red uniform. Two Cavalry sentries stand guard at the Whitehall entrance everyday, attracting lots of tourists' attention. The Guards change daily at the Horse Guards building (10 am on Mondays to Saturdays and 11 am on Sundays). Entry is free of charge.
Though not as popular as the changing of guard at Buckingham Palace, I prefer the Mounted Guard Changing Ceremony, simply because I love horses. :p It can, however, get a bit eeky with the horses' poopoo around.
It takes place daily Mon-Sat 11:00am; Sun 10:00am.
Decided to put a pic of the "non-mounted guard" (dunno what they are called) here because it's more interesting. I thought they aren't supposed to be distracted by other people but this guard was looking at the 2 Japanese grannies laughing and taking his pic. I guess I wasn't attractive enough :( he didn't look my way. :p When he turned around he'd his eyes half-closed and was looking at the ground! Ask me if you want to see the pic.
Even though we didn't like the Palace, we did like the gardens, and these are FREE TO VISIT.
The Gardens were beautifully laid out and were full of colour. These were the Italian Gardens, a 150-year-old ornamental water garden located near Lancaster Gate. It is believed to have been created as a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria.
Also in the gardens, is the elaborate Albert Memorial, commemorating the death of Prince Albert in 1861 of typhoid, and the Diana Memorial Playground, a FREE PLAYGROUND in memory of Princess Diana
The gardens are open at 6 am daily
I usually like Palaces, but Kensington Palace was weird!
Located in Chelsea London, Kensington Palace is a royal residence used by the British Royal Family since the 17th century.
It's the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, while the Duke and Duchess of Kent reside at Wren House. Kensington Palace is also used on an unofficial basis by Prince Harry, as well as his cousin Zara Phillips.
It was the official residence of Diana, Princess of Wales (from 1981 until her death in 1997), Princess Margaret (from 1960 until her death in 2002) and Princess Alice (from 1994 until her death in 2004).
The State Rooms are open to the public. When we entered the Palace, in the reception was this piece of art work resembling a dead tree hanging from the ceiling, then further into the Palace there were more. Why, I don't know! A lot of the rooms were very dark and had unusual lighting and displays, nothing like I had seen in another Palace.
Neither my husband or I enjoyed this Palace, in our opinion, not worth seeing.
Summer hours are usually from 10 - 6pm
Winter hours are usually from 10 - 5pm
The Palace of Westminster as almost everybody knows is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
The Palace lies on the Middlesex bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster and is considered to be one of the main landmarks of London.
Construction of the New Palace started in 1840 and lasted for thirty years.
You can watch my 1 min 58 sec Video Big Ben and Palace of Westminster out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence and principal workplace of the British monarch. Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality.
Originally it was known as Buckingham House. This building forms the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705.
You may have a virtual tour: The Grand Staircase, The Throne Room, The Blue Drawing Room, The White Drawing Room.
You can watch my 2 min 13 sec Video London Buckingham Palace out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
I loved seeing the Royal Carriages. These are displayed beautifully, and I was ALLOWED TO TAKE PHOTO'S.
One of the most impressive on display, was "The Gold State Coach," an enclosed, eight horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family.
Built in 1762, this carriage has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since George IV. The coach's great age and weight of 4 tons, limits its use to coronations, royal weddings, and the jubilees of a monarch.
The coach is gilded and features painted panels by Giovanni Cipriani and rich gilded sculpture including three cherubs on the roof (representing England, Ireland and Scotland) and four tritons, one at each corner (representing Britain's imperial power). The interior is lined with velvet and satin
Originally driven by a coachman, the horses are now postilion-ridden in pairs. So much glittering gold, I nearly needed sunglasses!
The Horse Guards Parade is, like the Mall, another of those Imperial stomping grounds that once must have seemed like an essential component of any imperial capital, and now seem like an essential component of any tourist hotspot. It was once the tiltyard for the Palace of Whitehall – the place where jousters would battle for the pleasure of the King and his consorts. Over time, however, and with the migration to Buckingham Palace by the Royals, the grounds were taken as part of the HQ of the British Army, and thus the Parade was devoted more for ceremonial processions and official celebrations than for personal fancies of the royals. Today it is still devoted to ceremonial processions, although the British Army no longer uses the adjoining buildings as its headquarters.
Change of guard is free to see on the yard of Buckingham Palace. To best place to see this is to stand on the pavement. Do not go to gate of the palace. You won't see them at all. If I remember correct the change of guard happends at noon. Check the time though!
For a chance to see the Queen's Life Guard, head for the seperate ceremony that takes place daily throughout the year at Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall.
A colorful spectacle that last about 25 minutes. The guard march from Hyde Park Corner via Constitution Hill and the Mall to Horse Guards Parade.
It takes place daily at 11:00 am (Mon-Sat) and 10 am on Sunday
I was in London when England was celebrating the remembrance of all the people felt during the 1st and the 2nd world wars. This monument has been built to remember all the airmen who gave their life for their Homeland freedom.
At the Royal Mews were more impressive carriages, ones I have seen the Queen and Prince Philip riding in. Some others in the collection are the Scottish State Coach, built in 1833, the Irish State Coach, the Glass Coach and others including the Australian State Coach, which was presented to Her Majesty as a Bi-Centennial gift from the people of Australia in 1988. Being Aussie, I was particularly interested in this one.
All of the carriages on display in the Royal Mews are working carriages, not just museum pieces.
In addition to the collection of carriages, the Royal Mews houses collection of ornate livery and harness through the ages and some of the Royal Cars are on display.
The Trooping of the Colour occurs every year and is great example of traditional English pomp and pageantry. Although dating back to the 17th century, a tradition of British infantry regiments first performed during the reign of Charles II, it now marks the Queen's official birthday in June. The Queen and members of the Royal family attend in person to watch the regiments parade their colours in Horse Guards Parade.
If you're lucky enough to get close enough to watch it, its great fun and makes me feel proud to be British. Alternatively every year the BBC broadcasts the military parade live for all to see.
This ceremony takes place at 11.00am each day(10am on Sundays) also at 4pm and is a spectacle of pomp and ceremony, British tradition remains in tact and proud we are of it.
For more informatin please go to the website provided.