Changing the Guard | Ceremonial Events / State Visits

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

There are usually two incoming State visits each year.

A State Visit normally last two or three days and start with an official reception at either Horse Guards in London, Windsor Castle or the Palace of Hollyrood House in Edinburgh.

Invitations to Foreign Monarchs, Presidents or Prime Ministers are sent on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

State Visits normally begin with a ceremonial welcome attended by The Queen and other senior members of the Royal Family.

If the guest is staying at Buckingham Palace, the welcome takes place on Horse Guards Parade.

Next State Visit

The last State Visit took place on 12th to 14th July 2017 with King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain staying as guests of Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Details of the next State Visit will be published as soon as they become available.

Guard of Honour at State Visit

Queen's Regalia is carried by coach to the Palace of Westminster

Once Her Majesty The Queen and other dignitaries have met the visitor they will normally inspect a Guard of Honour, provided by one of the Battalions or Incremental Companies of the Household Division.

The Captain of the Guard will always present the Guard in the language of the visitor.

After inspecting a guard of honour, the visiting President or Monarch then travels with HM The Queen, by carriage, back to Buckingham Palace with the Household Cavalry providing a Sovereign's Escort.

State Visit Time Table (1st November 2016)

11:45 onwards - Guard of Honour Ceremony on Horse Guards Parade.
Honour Guard provided by the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards. Musical support from Band of the Coldstream Guards and 1st Bn. Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums.

12:00 - Arrival of Her Majesty The Queen.

12:30 - Departure of the carriages together with the Sovereign's Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
Musical support by The Band of the Household Cavalry.

Green Park

12.10 - Gun Salute by The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
Musical support by The Band of the Royal Artillery.

Where to Watch - London

Honour Guard Ceremony and Official Welcome - Corner of St James's Park facing Horse Guards.

Carriage Procession: - The Mall or the Memorial Garden, near Queen Victoria Memorial

Gun Salutes - Green Park by Constitution Hill. Gun Wharf Tower of London.

Where to Watch - Windsor

Official Welcome - Datchet Road

Carriage Procession - Thames Street, High Street, Park Street, Cambridge Gate
The Procession enters the Castle, (which is closed to the public during a State Visit), through the George IV Gateway where the Honour Guard ceremony takes place.

Getting To Beating Retreat

Location: Horse Guards Parade, 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 Bus

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

By Train

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

By Car

Not recommended, Horse Guards Parade is in the congestion charge zone.

Parking is difficult to find and expensive.

Getting Around London

Oyster Card

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

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

  • Cheap - a single tube journey will cost £4.30 with cash but a maximum of £2.00 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

Travel CardThe London Travel Card gives you access to unlimited travel on London Underground trains, buses, Dockland's 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!

Getting to Windsor

Windsor is 30 miles (50km) West of London.

By Train

From London you can get to Windsor from both Waterloo and Paddington stations.

Trains from Waterloo to Windsor & Eaton Riverside Station depart every half hour throughout the day, hourly on Sundays.
The journey takes about an hour and 20 minutes.
Windsor & Eton Riverside - About a 10 minutes walk.

Trains from Paddington to Windsor Central depart every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day.
The journey takes about 35 minutes. You have to change trains at Slough.

By Bus

Greenline bus number 702 leaves from Victoria Colonnades, near London Victoria Coach Station every half hour, approximately, during the day. The journey takes about an hour.

 

 

By Car

Windsor is accessible via the major motorway networks of the M3, M4, M25 and M40

The journey time from London is approximately 40 minutes and Heathrow airport is about 15 minutes away.

Parking throughout Windsor is controlled and quite expensive.

Consider the Long Term parking if you are visiting Windsor Castle as a 20 minute walk saves about a third of the cost of short term parking in Windsor centre, most of which will be inaccessible due to road closures before and during the procession.

Another option is to use the Park and Ride services at Legoland Windsor or Windsor Home Park. Parking at Legoland is free.
Parking at Windsor Home Park is "pay and display". There is a small charge for bus fare.

Ceremonial Events Calendar

Our events calendar has details of all the State, Royal, military and ceremonial events for which London is so famous.