Ceremonial Events - State Visits

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

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 King and other senior members of the Royal Family.

Once His Majesty The King 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 the Guard of Honour, the visiting President or Monarch then travels by carriage with HM The King to Buckingham Palace with the Household Cavalry providing a Sovereign's Escort.

Offiical welcome on Horse Guards Parade for a visiting Head of State

Next State Visit - 25 June 2024

Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress of Japan have accepted an invitation from His Majesty The King to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom in June 2024.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will greet the Emperor and Empress of Japan, at their hotel, on behalf of The King on the morning of Tuedsay 25 June. 

His Royal Highness will travel with the Emperor and Empress to Horse Guards Parade, where Their Majesties will receive a Ceremonial Welcome.

The King and Queen will formally welcome the Emperor and Empress at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade.

Presentations will be made, the Guard of Honour will give a Royal Salute and the Japanese National Anthem will be played. 

The Emperor, accompanied by The King, then inspects the Guard of Honour,provided by the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards with the Band of the Welsh Guards.

Afterwards, the Emperor and Empress will join The King and Queen, and The Prince of Wales, in a carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where they will be met by a second Guard of Honour drawn from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will fire a 41 Gun Salute to mark the Ceremonial Welcome to the Emperor and Empress of Japan.
(The salute will be fired at a time coinciding with the arrival of the Emperor and Empress of Japan at Horse Guards Parade).


Where to Watch - London

Guard of Honour 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 Horse Guards Parade

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

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 £2.00 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
  • Save - Discounts at top restaurants, shops and venues across London simply by showing your card
  • Use your Visitor Oyster to get from Heathrow and Gatwick Airports to London and back


The London Travelcard 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!

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.

More Ceremonial Events

Check the Ceremonial Events calendar for details of State, Royal and Military ceremonial events scheduled to take place

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