State, Royal & Military Ceremonial Events in London

London hosts high profile ceremonial events every year, including The King's Birthday Parade, Beating Retreat, The State Opening of Parliament, State Visits and more that epitomise the history, pomp and pageantry for which Britain is famous worldwide.

This quick guide to the State Occasions, Royal and Military Ceremonial Events that take place in London has links to lots more information including how to get tickets and where you can watch them from the sidelines.

Ceremonial Events

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Changing the Guard

Grenadier Guards Colours

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, with the Foot Guards in their red tunics and iconic bearskin caps, is probably one of the best known ceremonial events in the world.

Changing The King's Life Guard takes place daily on Horse Guards Parade where the men and horses of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment stand guard at the official entrance to Buckingham and St. James's Palace.

Changing the Windsor Castle Guard takes place within the precincts of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest continuously inhabited castle in the world, which is one of the King's three official residences.

Trooping the Colour

Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards Parade

Trooping the Colour, also known as the 'The King's Birthday Parade', takes place in June each year to mark the Sovereign's official birthday.

More than 1,400 officers and men and approximately 400 musicians from the Massed Bands of the Household Division take part in The King's Birthday Parade.

There are two full dress rehearsals, prior to The King's Birthday Parade, 'The Major General's Review' and 'The Colonel's Review', which gives visitors an opportunity to see a vibrant display of pomp and pageantry in these highlights of the ceremonial calendar.

Household Division Beating Retreat

The Household Division Beating Retreat on Horse Guards Parade

Beating Retreat brings together music, guns, horses, precision drill, and fireworks to create an amazing sunset spectacular on Horse Guards Parade.

On two evenings in June, set against the backdrop of St James's Park, the Massed Bands of the Household Division and guest performers deliver a not to be missed pageant.

State Opening of Parliament

The Queen travelling by carriage to the Palace of Westminster

The State Opening of Parliament is a royal ceremony steeped in history that dates back to the fourteenth century.

The King travels by coach, escorted by the Household Cavalry, from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster along the Royal Route.

State Visits

Carriage procession and escort in Windsor during a State Visit

State Visits are formal visits to the United Kingdom by Heads of State from overseas.

State Visits normally begin with a ceremonial welcome attended by The King and other senior members of the Royal Family either on Horse Guards Parade or in Windsor.

Garter Service

Garter Day procession in Windsor Castle

The Knights of the Garter gather at Windsor Castle, wearing their blue velvet robes and black velvet hats with white plumes, for the Garter Service every June.

The procession route is lined by troops from the Household Division and The King's historic bodyguards, including the Corps of Gentlemen, Yeoman Guards, Yeoman Warders, (Beefeaters), accompany the Knights. Find out how to get an invitation.

Gun Salutes

Kings Troop RHA firing a Gun Salute

Gun Salutes mark special royal occasions including The King's Birthday and those of other senior members of the Royal Family.

In London, salutes by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, in either Hyde Park or Green Park and at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company.

Remembrance Sunday

Prince's William and Harry laying a wreath at the Cenotaph

Remembrance Sunday is a day for the nation to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves in two world wars and other conflicts, to secure and protect our freedom.

Hidden Gems

Ceremony of the Keys

Yemaon Warder with lantern at the Ceremony of the Keys

Every night, for about 700 years, the Yeoman Warders, often called Beefeaters, have performed a gate-closing ritual known as the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London.

Book early if you want to visit the Ceremony of the Keys!


The Guards Chapel

The Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks

The Guards Chapel is open to all members of the public Monday to Friday 10:00 – 16:00. The weekly Sunday Service is at 11am except on Remembrance Sunday when our service starts at 10:45am.

In addition to being the spiritual home of the Household Division the Guards Chapel hosts recitals and concerts throughout the year.

Scarlet and Gold

Household Division Bands at Cadogan Hall

Scarlet and Gold presents a rare opportunity to see the Bands of The Household Division swap the parade square for the stage when they come together to present their annual concert.

Ceremonial Highlights 2024

Major General's Review - Sat 01 June 2024

The Colonel s Review - Sat 08 June 2024

King's Birthday Parade - Sat 15 June 2024

Beating Retreat - 16, 17 & 18 July 2024


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