3 unmissable royal ceremonies to see when visiting London
Britain has centuries of spectacular royal traditions to showcase that take place throughout the year to educate and entertain visitors.
Changing of the Guard
One of the most iconic and unmissable royal ceremonies, the Changing of the Guard, is the daily process of the New Guard taking over from the Old Guard at Buckingham Palace. The ceremony starts at 10.45am, but be sure to arrive much earlier to secure a good viewing spot, and ensure to visit the Household division website to check dates and timings (also, bear in mind that in extremely wet weather there may be no Changing of the Guard ceremony).
With the rest of the day ahead, why not take a short walk through St James Park to discover the secrets hidden beneath the streets at Churchill War Rooms, the underground bunker where Winston Churchill and his inner circle directed the Second World War. Visitors can save time and money at the Churchill War Rooms by purchasing The London Pass – a hassle-free sightseeing credits package that lets holders explore over 80 attractions.
Trooping the Colour
Easily accessible by train , tube and boat, the Trooping of the Colour takes place once a year on Horse Guards Parade in St James’s Park to mark Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday.
The ceremony gets its name from the battalion flag which is paraded (or trooped) down the ranks of soldiers, and this year the parade will take place on Saturday, 8 June 2019. If these dates don’t fit, fans of the Royal Family can also catch the equally flamboyant ceremony rehearsals on the two Saturdays leading up to the parade.
All three events are free to watch from The Mall or the edge of St James’s Park and once the parade is finished, visitors can take a short walk from St James Park to the magnificent Westminster Abbey to continue their day of history and heritage.
Ceremony of the Keys
In the Ceremony of the Keys, a tradition that has taken place every night for the last 700 years, the Chief Yeoman Warder meets up with the Tower of London Guard at 9.53pm to secure the main tower gates. When they make their way back they are stopped by a sentry who says ‘Halt, who comes there?’ The Yeoman Warder replies, ‘The keys.’ ‘Whose keys?’ ‘Queen Elizabeth’s keys.’ ‘Pass then, all’s well.’
Tickets for this iconic display are free but must be pre-booked, and bookings are available online only.
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