Changing The Queen's Life Guard - Horse Guards Parade

'The Queen's Life Guard', mounted on immaculately groomed horses with breastplates shinning in the sun, present a stirring sight as they ride through the streets of London to Change the Guard on Horse Guards Parade.

The Queen's Life Guard is normally provided by men of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment which consists of a Squadron of The Life Guards, who wear red tunics and white plumed helmets, and a Squadron of The Blues and Royals with blue tunics and red plumed helmets.

The Queen's Life Guard changing at Horse Guards

Life Guards have stood guard at Horse Guards, the official entrance to St James and Buckingham Palace, since the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660.

The New Guard leaves Hyde Park Barracks at 10:28 weekdays and 9:28 on Sundays to ride to Horse Guards Parade via Hyde Park Corner, Constitution Hill and The Mall on their way to the guard change ceremony.

Although Changing The Queen's Lifeguard is not as well known as Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace smaller crowds and no railings between you and the men and horses taking part make it ideal for those with younger children and those looking for some amazing pictures.

The ceremony lasts about half an hour, and the mounted sentries change every hour, or half hour in very cold weather during the day until 16:00 when a dismounting ceremony takes place.

Changing The Life Guard Ceremony

Changing the Life Guard takes place daily at 11:00 weekdays and 10:00 on Sundays.
Always check the confirmed dates before planning a visit as State Occasions or other ceremonial duties sometimes lead to changes in the schedule for Changing the Queen's Life Guard.

The Old Guard forms up on the North side of the enclosure in Horse Guards.

When the New Guard arrives the trumpeters of both the Old and New Guard sound a Royal Salute.

When both Guards have formed up in the enclosure, the Corporal Major, and the sentries of the first relief of the New Guard leave for the Guard Room.

The sentries of the Old Guard, after being relieved, rejoin the remainder of the Old Guard on the north side of the enclosure.

When the Old Guard departs the trumpeters again sound a Royal Salute.

Note: The Standard and trumpeters only parade with a Long Guard.

Long Guard

A 'Long Guard' is mounted when the Queen is in residence, at Buckingham Palace, the Long Guard is made up of an Officer, a Corporal Major,who carries the Standard, two Non-Commissioned Officers, a Trumpeter and ten Troopers.

Short Guard

A 'Short Guard' is mounted when the Queen is not in residence at Buckingham Palace the Short Guard is made up of two Non-Commissioned Officers and ten Troopers.

Should The Queen leave London while the Guard is mounted or, having been away, return to Buckingham Palace, the Guard is 'made up' or "masde down" to suit.

The 4 'O' Clock Parade

The 4 'o' clock Parade at Horse Guards

The Four 'O' Clock Parade, also known as the Dismounting Ceremony takes place at 16:00 hours in the courtyard within the Horse Guards building.

The guards are inspected by an Officer and then the mounted guards take the horses back to the stables for the night.

Two dismounted sentries will then guard the entrance until 20:00 when the gates to Horse Guards are closed and then one sentry will remain on duty until 07:00 when the gates re-open.

The 4 'o' Clock Parade started in 1894 when Queen Victoria found the entire guard drinking and gambling while on duty.

As a punishment, she said they had to be inspected every day at 4pm by an officer for the next 100 years!

The 100 years finished in 1994. However, the reigning Queen wanted the parade to contine as a tradition.

The Life Guards Duties

The Life Guards are under orders to bar the entrance of all carriages and cars through the Arch of Horse Guards, unless the traveler is in possession of, and be able to produce, an Ivory Pass, only the Royal Family is exempt from this rule.

Horse Guards Parade

Horse Guards Parade, is a large parade ground off Whitehall in central London.

As well as being the venue for changing The Queen's Life Guard it is also the location for Trooping the Colour, which commemorates the Queen's Birthday, and Beating Retreat.

Getting To Horse Guards

Address: Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AX

By Underground

The nearest tube stations are:
Charing Cross - About 6 minutes walk. Bakerloo, & Northern line
Embankment - 10 minutes walk Bakerloo, Northern, District & Circle line

By Train

Nearest, mainline, train station:
Charing Cross- About 6 minutes walk

By Bus

Bus Numbers: 11, 12, 159, 24, 3, 453, 53, 87, 88,
N109, N11, N136, N155, N2, N3, N381, N44, N87

By Car

Not recommended, Whitehall is in the congestion charge zone.
Parking is difficult to find and expensive.

Getting Around London

Visitor Oyster Card

The Visitor Oyster Card is the cheapest and most flexible way to travel around London.

Valid on London Underground, buses, trams and the Dockland Light Railway (DLR).

  • Cheap - a single tube journey will cost ?4.30 with cash but a maximum of ?2 with an Oyster card
  • Smart - You will never be charged more than a price of a London Travel card
  • Easy - your card is reusable and the credit never expires
London Travel Card

The London Travel card gives you access to unlimited travel on London Underground trains, buses, Docklands Light Railway, trams and overland trains within London.

  • Cheap: with one ticket you get unlimited travel, [ within the zones your Travel card covers], working out much cheaper than buying single tickets
  • Easy: one ticket for one day or one week!

Visit The Household Cavalry Museum

The Household Cavalry Museum, in the heart of London, provides an opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at the work of the Queen's horse guards.

This unique working museum provides a behind the scenes look at the ceremonial and operational roles of the Household Cavalry and the opportunity to see troopers working with their horses in the original 18th century stables of the Queen's Lifeguard.