“Where is the best place to watch the Changing of the Guard”?
As the Changing of the Guard spans three locations Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks there is no single spot where you can see the entire Guard Mount.
Most visitors head for the Gates of Buckingham Palace to watch Changing the Guard, but many leave disappointed that although they see the Guards and hear the Band play not much actually happens on the forecourt, for about 25 minutes, once the handover has taken place and the sentries on duty are being relieved.
There are several other less crowded spots to see the Guards and Bands and hope the suggestions below help you see and enjoy more your visit to Changing the Guard.
Wherever you choose to watch the Changing of the Guard please don't stand, or try to cross the road, in front of the Guards as they will not stop or deviate from their line of march.
The police do a great job, controlling the crowds and making sure the gates are clear for troops marching in and out, and are always ready to help if you need assistance.
Please report any suspicious behaviour to a Police Officer.
Watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, or along the parade route, is free of charge and no tickets or booking is required.
Friary Court, Marlborough Road London London SW1A 1BG.
The first troop movements for the Changing of the Guard ceremony take place at St. James’ Palace.
10:25 The St James' Palace Detachment of The King's Guard form up for inspection on Friary Court
During the inspection the St James's Palace Band play a selection of music.
(Check the calendar as on occasions there is no St James's Palace Band)
10:43 The Guards, normally led by a Regimental Band or Corp of Drums, step off to march down The Mall to Buckingham Palace.
+ Good spot if want a quick glimpse of the Guards without a long wait.
- Gets crowded as a lot of tour guides bring their groups here.
Visitor Tip: Grab a few photos then head for The Mall to watch the Guards and Band march past. Alternatively cross The Mall into St James's Park walk over the bridge towards Birdcage Walk and see the New Guard and Band at Wellington Barracks.
Nearest Tube station: Green Park, (Piccadilly, Victoria, and Jubilee lines), 0.4 mile, 9 minutes walk.
Picking a spot on The Mall, between Marlborough Road and Buckingham Palace, gives you a close-up view of the Guards marching past.
Normally there are no barriers between the road and pavement which means the guards march right past you, with nothing to block your view.
This location also gives visitors the option to leave once the parade has past then, if you wish, walk down The Mall with the Guards to Buckingham Palace to see the rest of the ceremony from the sidelines.
+ Not to crowded
+ Normally no railings or barriers to block your view
+ Good spot to take close-up photographs
- On occasions there is no Band accompanying the Old Guard from St James's Palace. (Check the schedule)
- You will not get close enough to the Palace to see much of the ceremony on the forecourt
If you do walk with the Guards never stand or try to cross the road in front of them as they will not stop or deviate from their line of march.
Visitor Tip: You can follow the crowd down to the Palace or take a break and see parts of the parade most visitors miss!
(There is a refreshment kiosk and toilets in St James's Park beside the Marlborough Gate entrance).
At 11:10 see the Relief march up The Mall and enter St James's Palace via Stable Yard Road to relieve the sentries who have been standing guard during the handover to the New Guard. Shortly afterwards the sentries from the Old Guard leave to march to Buckingham Palace.
Then at 11:37 the Household Cavalry will ride past on their way back to barracks from Horse Guards Parade and at 11:45 the St James's Palace Detachment of the New Guard, normally led by a Regimental Band, will come marching straight up The Mall towards you.
Nearest Tube stations:
Nearest Mainline Station: Charing Cross
Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London SW1E 6HQ.
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 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.
Visitor Tip: Once the New Guard depart you can follow them to the Palace or take a gentle stroll across St. James's Park, with enough time for a quick coffee on the way, to The Mall to see the Household Cavalry ride past, on their way back to barracks, at 11:37 and then at 11:45 see the Band leading the St James's Palace Detachment of The King's Guard up the Mall.
Nearest Tube station: St James's Park - (District and Circle Line) 0.3 miles 6 minutes walk.
The Victoria Memorial located in front of Buckingham Palace
Standing on the steps of the Victoria Memorial is a good spot as the elevated position lets you see the Guards and Bands arriving and gives a reasonable view of the ceremony on the forecourt.
+ Elevated position gives a reasonable view of the ceremony
+ Good view of the Guards and Bands arriving and departing
+ Good view of the Household Cavalry as they ride past
- You need to be there early
- It get very busy
- Crowds against the railings can restrict your view of the forecourt
- Once the ceremony begins, you will not be able to leave
Visitor Tip : Try to get a spot on the side of the Memorial facing Buckingham Palace, though most places on the memorial will afford you a reasonable view.
Nearest Tube stations:
Buckingham Palace, London SW1 1AA
Buckingham Palace railings is the spot most most first time visitors try to grab when they visit the Changing of the Guard.
Providing you get here early enough, you will have a great view of the part of the Changing Ceremony that takes place in the forecourt.
+ Closest you can Changing of the Guard ceremony on the forecourt
+ You can see all the ceremony on the forecourt
- You need to be there very early ( at least 1.5 hours before the start in summer)
- Gets very crowded
- Restricted view of the Guards marching to and from the Palace
- Hard to get good pictures as the 'Guards' march to the Palace
Visitor Tip:Take a bottle of water, if you leave for a drink or comfort break you will not get back to the front of the crowd.
Nearest Tube stations:
Spur Road, on the left facing Buckingham Palace, is the spot to head for you if you arrive late or don't fancy joining the crowds against the railings or on the Queen Victoria Memorial.
You get a great view of the Band and New Guard marching up Birdcage Walk
+ Normally find a spot if you arrive late or don't like crowds
- You can't see very much of the ceremony on the forecourt
Nearest Tube stations:
The footpaths, in front of Buckingham Palace are paved and easy to navigate in a wheelchair.
However, as these are public footpaths there are no dedicated areas set aside for wheelchair users to view the Changing of the Guard.
If you turn up early try and get a spot by the railings between the South Centre Gate, (left of centre facing the Palace), and the Main Gate, (in front of the balcony).
Visitor Tip: Talk to one of the very friendly policemen on duty in front of the Palace as they are very helpful and adept at getting wheel chair users and those who need assistance into a position by the gates where they can see more of the ceremony.
Bus Numbers: 11, 211, 239, C1 & C10 Stop on Buckingham Palace Rd.
All London buses are accessible to Disabled and older people.
Not recommended, as roads around Buckingham Palace are closed before and during the Changing of the Guard and it is difficult to find parking close by.
If you are coming by car details of Blue Badge parking in Westminster can be downloaded from our website or you can pre-book a space in the NCP car park in Carrington Street which is just over half a mile from Buckingham Palace
Wondering where is our favourite spot to watch the Changing of the Guard?
Well you may be surprised to discover it's not outside Buckingham Palace, but at Wellington Barracks.
Why? Well it's a lot less crowded, we can rock up around 10:15 and still get a great view of the New Guard forming up, their inspection, the Colours being handed over and get to hear the Band playing a selection of music before they step off for Buckingham Palace at 10:57.
Then, if we want more pictures, a gentle stroll across St. James's Park, with enough time for a quick coffee on the way, to The Mall to see the Household Cavalry ride past, on their way back to barracks, at 11:37 and then at 11:45 see the Band leading the St James's Palace Detachment of The King's Guard march up the Mall.
To see the Changing the Guard ceremony while avoiding the crowds at the gates of Buckingham Palace, and end up in the right place at the right time, we recommend the award winning Changing the Guard Walking Tour from Fun London Tours.
As an extra bonus you can save 10% on this fun packed tour by adding the discount code FUNGUARD10PC when you book a Changing the Guard Walking Tour.
Where other visitors go from here: