Visiting Changing the Guard With Children

Standing in the huge crowds in front of Buckingham Palace can make a visit to the Changing of the Guard ceremony a daunting experience for younger children.

However, kids can still see the Guards, hear the Bands play and avoid most of the crowds by following this suggestion.

IMPORTANT: The official start time for Changing the Guard is currently 11:00 hours.

Make your way to Wellington Barracks, at the Buckingham Palace end of Birdcage Walk, for about 10:15.

There you will see the New Guard forming up and being inspected, and then while they are waiting for their Regimental Colours the Band play a selection of music.

At 10:57 the New Guard led by a Regimental Band will march out of Wellington Barracks, and turn left for Buckingham Palace.

You can then follow them to the Palace, but to be fair it is difficult to see the troops, inside the railings surrounding the Palace forecourt, and not much happens for the next 30 minutes.

Personally, with children, I would skip the huge crowds at the Palace and head across St James's Park, over the bridge towards The Mall, which give you two options:

  1. At 11:10 see the Relief march up The Mall and enter St James's Palace via Stable Yard Road where they will relieve the sentries who have been standing guard during the handover to the New Guard.
    Shortly afterwards the St James's Palace contingent of the Old Guard leaves to march to Buckingham Palace.
  2. Alternatively there are toilets and a refreshment kiosk, just over the bridge, if a comfort break is needed on the way to The Mall.

    Then at about 11:30 pick a spot on The Mall, close to the junction with Marlbourgh Road.
  • At 11:37 the Household Cavalry will ride past on their way back to barracks from Horse Guards Parade.
  • At 11:45 the St James's Palace Detachment of the New Guard, led by a Regimental Band, will come marching straight up The Mall towards you.

Visit The Queen's Life Guard

An alternative, especially for children who love horses, is to head for Horse Guards Parade where the Queen's Life Guard change, at 11:00 Monday - Saturday and at 10:00 on a Sunday.

There you will find smaller crowds and no railings between visitors and the men and horses taking part in the ceremony.

Combine this with a visit to the Household Cavalry Museum where kids big and small can dress up in the uniform of a Life Guard or Blues and Royals trooper as well as see the horses being worked on in their stables, through a glass partition, and you might just have found someone's ideal day out.

The Queen's Life Guard change on Horse Guards Parade

Getting to Wellington Barracks

Address: Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London SW1E 6HQ.

Nearest Tube Station: St James's Park - District and Circle Line

Directions St James's Park Station to Wellington Barracks:

Leave the station by the Broadway exit.

Cross Broadway and turn right onto Queen Anne's Gate.

Turn left onto Birdcage Walk.

Walk along Birdcage Walk to the gates of Wellington Barracks.

Total distance: 0.3mile. Walking time: 6 - 8 minutes (approximately).

Wellington Barracks to The Mall, (Junction with Marlborough Road

Cross Birdcage Walk and enter St James's Park.

Walk diagonally across the Park to the footbridge over the lake.

Cross the footbridge, (good spot to get pictures of Buckingham Palace)

Follow the path, straight ahead, from the footbridge to The Mall

Route Map

Click the map for pictures of what you will see.

Kids walk

  • Visiting With Children
  • Visiting With Children
    Suggested route for younger visitors to see the Guards and Bands while avoiding the huge crowds outside Buckingham Palace
  • Irish Guards Band
    The Band form a semi-circle and play a selection of music while waiting for the Colours of the New Guard.
    Picture by: David M Whitecross
  • Grenadier Guards Wellington Barracks
    Colours of the Grenadier Guards are escorted to the New Guard
  • Irish Guards Band
    Band of the Irish Guards leading the New Guard out of Wellington Barracks onto Birdcage Walk
    Picture by: Fun London Tours
  • St James's Park
    Bridge over the lake in St James's Park.
    You get a great view of Buckingham Palace from here.
  • Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums
    Coldstream Guards Corps of Drums marching down The Mall.
    Picture by: Philip Bisset
  • The-Life-Guards
    The Life Guards, on Horse Guards Parade to change The Queen's Life Guard
    Picture by: Philip Bisset

The map and directions are available for download in PDF format.

Need More Information?

Should you need more information about visiting the Changing of the Guard ceremony with children please don't hesitate to get in touch.