Changing the Windsor Castle Guard

Changing the Windsor Castle Guard, takes place in the spectacular surroundings of the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world.

Traffic is stopped and the bustling High Street is transformed into a Parade Ground, lined by residents and visitors, waiting to see the Guards led by a Regimental Band march to and from changing the Windsor Castle Guard.

To see the Changing the Guard ceremony inside the castle, where the Regiment, who have been on duty for the previous 24 or 48 hours handover to the New Guard, you will need to purchase a Windsor Castle ticket.

Unless The Queen is in official residence the Windsor Castle Guard change ceremony takes place in the Lower Ward with the New and Old Guard entering and leaving through the Henry VIII Gate.

When The Queen is in official residence the ceremony takes place on the lawn of the Quadrangle outside the Royal Apartments when the Guards march all the way up to the top of Castle Hill and enter through the St George's Gate.

Following the ceremony the Old Guard and Band return along the High Street on their way back to barracks.

 

Irish Guards mounting the Windsor Castle Guard
Irish Guards Mounting the Windsor Castle Guard

Windsor Castle Guard Change - Fast Facts

  • Changing the Windsor Castle Guard is the ceremony where the regiment who have been on duty for the previous 24 or 48 hours handover responsibility for protecting Windsor Castle to the New Guard.
  • The ceremony begins at 11:00 following a march by the New Guard, led by a Regimental Band, from Victoria Barracks.
  • Dates and times the Windsor Castle Guard is scheduled to change are published in our calendar as soon as they have been confirmed.
    Please check as changes can/do occur, sometimes at short notice.
  • The Windsor Castle Guard is normally provided by one of the five regiments of Foot Guards from the Household Division, instantly recognisable in their bearskin caps and scarlet tunics.
  • Musical support is provided by a Regimental Band or Corps of Drums with pipers occasionally taking part in the ceremony.
  • Don't touch, impede or get to close to the Guards they are highly trained infantry soldiers, who in addition to their combat role undertake ceremonial duties, not actors.
  • Watching the Guards and Band march to and from the Castle is free of charge.
  • To see the handover ceremony, which takes place within the Castle precincts you will need to purchase Windsor Castle entry tickets.
    Available online, recommended,or by joining the queues at the ticket office on the day.
  • Ticket holders are recommend arriving at Windsor Castle no later than 10:00 to allow sufficient time to get through the airport style security checks before the ceremony starts.

 

Where to Watch

On the Parade Route

Guard Mount begins with the New Guard and Band forming up outside the Guard Room at Victoria Barracks from where they will step off at approximately 10:45 to march up Sheet Street, wheeling left into the High Street, past the Parish Church and the Guildhall, then turning right onto Castle Hill by Queen Victoria's Statue and up the hill into Windsor Castle.

Discover what you can see, from the various locations, along the Guards Route, complete with a map and pictures.

Inside Windsor Castle

Changing the Windsor Castle Guard normally takes place outside the Guard Room in the Lower Ward.

Standing by the railings, just below St George's Chapel, will give you a good view of the ceremony. Plan to be there by 10:30, at the latest, as when the Old Guard turn out the crowd grows quickly.
There are uniformed Wardens who will point you in the right direction and provide advice.

When Her Majesty The Queen is in official residence at Windsor Castle the ceremony takes place in the Upper Ward, on the lawn of the Quadrangle, close to the entrance to the State Apartments.

Standing next to St George's Gate, inside the Castle, will let you see the Guards and Band march right past you literally close enough to touch.

From the railings at Engine Court you can see the entire ceremony with The Queen's Private Residence providing a spectacular backdrop.

From time to time other areas, including the Moat Path, are opened to let visitors watch the ceremony.
The friendly uniformed Wardens will guide you to these when available.

Plan of Windsor Castle

The Ceremony

The Windsor Castle Guard is normally provided by one of five Regiments of Foot Guards, of the Household Division, in their full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskin caps accompanied by a Regimental Band, Corps of Drums or occasionally by a Pipe Band.

Changing the Guard, also known as the Guard Mount, begins with the Windsor Castle Guard forming up outside the Guard Room to await the arrival of the New Guard.
(When The Queen is in Official Residence they form up on the Quadrangle, close to the entrance to the State Apartments).

The New Guard march into the Castle, behind the Band, and halt before turning to face the Windsor Castle Guard.

The New Guard slow march towards the Windsor Castle Guard with the Band playing their Regimental Slow March.

Coming to halt the Windsor Castle Guard and New Guard 'Present Arms' before the Captains of the Guard hand-over, with a symbolic touch of their left hands, the Castle keys.

From that time forward the New Guard will be responsible for the security of Windsor Castle until they are relieved..

Handover complete the Band form a semi-circle and play a selection of music.

Sentries are then posted to relieve those from the old guard who have remained at their posts during the handover.

When all the sentries have been relieved and the old guard is complete the duty bugler informs the Director of Music that the handover is complete and the Band reforms.

Advancing towards the New Guard, to the strains of their Regimental Slow March, the Old Guard wheel right, and as they approach the Castle Gates break into quick time for the march back to their barracks.

The New Guard, remaining in the Palace, is given the order to 'Slope Arms' and is referred to from this point as 'The Windsor Castle Guard'.

The Windsor Castle Guard then retires to the Guard Room where the will remain on duty for 24 or 48 hours. During that time a Guardsman will have 2 hours on sentry duty and then 4 hours off.

 

Getting to Windsor Castle

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.

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.

 

About Windsor Castle

Find out more about and what you can see inside Windsor Castle when you purchase a ticket to visit the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, to watch the Windsor Castle Guard change ceremony.