Buckingham Palace Guide, London, England
Buckingham Palace seen from Queen Victoria Memorial by Chiugoran.
Buckingham Palace Tourism
Built in 1705 as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham and home to royalty since 1837 when Queen Victoria moved in, Buckingham Palace surrounds are worth a wander at any time, especially catching a view from down the long avenue approach called The Mall or from relaxing St James Park where the bridge is prime viewing point.
TBH it’s not a very pretty sight but it still makes it into the top ten London attractions, especially when the guards are marching or riding down the Mall and into the courtyard with much pomp and ceremony. Get there early. It’s free!
Map of the public, east side of Buckingham Palace where guards march.
Best Way to See the Changing of the Guard
The Queens Guards and the best position for viewing them, the Queen Victoria Monument, more-or-less in the middle of The Mall, the boulevard that leads to Buckingham Palace from Trafalgar Square. Photo by Cristian Bortes.
* The Queens Guard are infantry that generally march in bearskin hats accompanied by a band while the more impressive Life Guards ride on horseback in shiny helmets. However, it depends on which regiment is on duty, so if the Grenadier Guards are on then tourists will get to see dull grey coats and probably rain in sympathy. Whoever they are they usually move from near Horse Guards Parade (on the right) down the Mall to the palace, though there is also action around Wellington Barracks (bottom left on map) though it’s not clear when that happens.
* The very best view is from a raised part of QVM (Queen Victoria Memorial) or one of the curved pavements facing the monument and palace. Failing that anywhere along The Mall will provide a good view of the guards, though getting to see the actual change in the palace courtyard may be a challenge if you are too far away as police strictly control movement in the area.
* The two best tube stations for access to the grand parade are St James Park or Green Park. Victoria is not such a pleasant walk but not far. St James Park is the prettier park, has lovely walks and GV (see map) is an excellent spot to see the palace (but not the guard) in the west or fine old government buildings to the east.
* There is also a smaller ‘Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard’ every day in Horse Guards Parade (right side). It features horse guards with no music but fewer tourists. Windsor Castle too has a daily guard-changing event.
Just on the Whitehall side of Horse Guards Parade will be one stiff, bored guard all alone and being used as a photo opportunity by tourist barbarians.