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Changing of the Guard Tours in London

The Changing of the Guard is a long-held tradition that marks the transfer of responsibilities among the monarch's defense troops.

This procession is performed by two sets of guards, clad in bearskin hats and royal red uniforms, and takes place between St. James's Palace and Buckingham Palace.

One of the best ways to experience this display is on a Changing of the Guard tour in London. Not only will you get a better view of the action but you'll also learn more about the history behind this famous march.

Here's all you need to know about the Changing of the Guard, one of the most famous options for sightseeing tours in London.

What are the best Changing of the Guard tours in London?

Changing of the Guard walking tour

Rather than guessing the meaning behind the Changing of the Guard procession for yourself, why not have a tour guide with you to fill you in on the details?


With a local guide on hand, you’ll learn how to differentiate the different types of royal guards as you follow their journey from St. James’s Palace to the monarch’s residence — Buckingham Palace.

As part of a small group, you’ll feel the personal touches on this type of London walking tour and will be able to get close to the action as you march down The Mall.

Listen to the steady beat of the drum keeping this procession perfectly in sync and admire the furry hats, and red jackets that make the guard's uniforms so iconic.

Changing of the Guard tour plus the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey

Explore more of the city’s highlights on this London walking tour that will take you on a historic journey through the centuries.


Begin your Changing of the Guard tour in London by stepping inside the grand Westminster Abbey, which has been the setting of 16 royal weddings since it was built in 960 A.D.

Getting to the site early means you can explore its striking architecture and religious artworks before the crowds arrive.

Then, you’ll head to Buckingham Palace to watch the royal Changing of the Guard ceremony, which is a highlight of all traveler's visits to the city.

From there, you’ll make your way to Trafalgar Square — home to a myriad of fountains and monuments including Nelson’s Column.

Hop onto a boat and set sail on a Thames River cruise, gaining a unique perspective of the attractions that line its banks all the way to the Tower of London.

As you wander through the tower, you’ll have the opportunity to see the priceless collection of Crown Jewels, which have been protected here for over 500 years, and learn about the superstitions behind its resident ravens.

Buckingham Palace skip-the-line tour with Changing of the Guard

If you want to expand your knowledge of the British monarchy, combine your London Changing of the Guard tour with a trip inside the royal residence itself.


Watch as the royal guards begin their daily performance from a prime viewing spot, as selected by your local guide.

You’ll see the level of detail that goes into this ceremony and how much respect these individuals hold for the monarch of England. As this tremendous display happens, your guide will feed you tidbits of information about the Changing of the Guard.

After the ceremony, you’ll head inside Buckingham Palace where you’ll enjoy an audio-guided tour of its colossal grounds. Witness the opulence of its luxurious decor and peek inside several of its 775 rooms.

One of the rooms you can see on this guided walk of the palace is the Throne Room, which houses chairs created for the coronations of several royals, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I.

Royal walking tour in London with Changing of the Guard

Royal family fanatics can learn all of the monarchy’s favorite spots around the city on this walking tour of London.


Wandering the streets of Central London with your knowledgeable guide, you’ll learn interesting facts about the royals that the general public doesn’t know.

You’ll tour the best shops in the city, finding out who supplies alcohol to Buckingham Palace and where the late prince chose to have his hair cut.

You can be sure of the quality of these goods and services knowing they’ve received a royal stamp of approval, and you may choose to make a purchase yourself to take home with you.

Visit the most luxurious grocery store in the country, which Queen Elizabeth II was known to be particularly fond of. Here, you can discover what goes into a classic British cream tea.

Alongside shops, you’ll also stroll past a number of churches and monuments, as well as Buckingham Palace, where you’ll watch the beloved Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Changing of the Guard and St. Paul’s Cathedral tour

Explore the city’s largest church on this Changing of the Guard tour in London that encompasses the spectacular St. Paul’s Cathedral.


Kick your London city tour off with a bang by heading straight to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which has a rich history dating back to the 7th century.

The current design of the cathedral was sculpted by Christopher Wren in the 17th century and has hosted many famous funerals, including that of Winston Churchill.

Try the Whispering Gallery out for yourself as you journey 30 meters up above the church’s floor to experience the architectural marvel.

Once you’ve been thoroughly impressed by the colossal dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll make your way to Buckingham Palace, just in time to witness the Changing of the Guard parade.

Which places are seen?

Changing of the Guard ceremonies date back to the reign of Henry VIII in the 15th century when a guard watch was established at the Tower of London, during its spell as a prison.

While the monarch has been protected by household troops since the 17th century, this tradition was adopted by Buckingham Palace upon Queen Victoria's move to the now royal residence in 1837.

This procession marks the handing over of duties from the Old Guard to the New Guard, made up of foot guards from the Household Division.

Today, the parade begins at St. James's Palace with a regimental band marking the start of the procession.

From there, the Old Guard make their way along The Mall toward Buckingham Palace in order to pass their duties on to the New Guard, who march to the palace from Wellington Barracks.

During this time, travelers can enjoy a selection of band music and watch the precision that goes into every move of the guards who are still protecting the royal residence.

There is a ceremonial handover of the palace keys before the New Guard take responsibility for the defense of Buckingham Palace.

If the monarch is in residence, the foot guards will salute with their rifles. Once the transfer of duties is complete, the Old Guard march to Wellington Barracks, and the ceremony is complete.

How much do Changing of the Guard tours in London cost?

Changing of the Guard tours in London and royal walking tours both cost between £10, and £20 per person and are the most budget-friendly option for tourists in the city.

If you wish to dive deeper into the history behind the British monarchy, you can book an excursion that includes a tour of Buckingham Palace for around £60 per person.

You’ll pay approximately £140 per person for a Changing of the Guard tour in London that includes entrance to Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.

Alternatively, you can opt for an excursion that includes St. Paul’s Cathedral for £240 per person.

What is included?

Changing of the Guard tours in London always include a knowledgeable guide to lead you through the city streets toward Buckingham Palace and provide you with information about the parade as it happens.

They may also take you to a range of other attractions in the city center, depending on the type of excursion you select.

If you opt for a day trip that includes other famous attractions, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral or the Tower of London, you’ll find that your entrance fee to these sites is included in the overall price of the tour.

In rare cases, you may also find transportation included in the price.

Where does it start?

Changing of the Guard tours in London meet at a variety of locations across the city, depending on the additional landmarks you choose to see.

These may be at a monument close to St. James’s Palace where the ceremony begins, such as the Duke of York Column, or as far out as Parliament Square.

Luckily, London has an excellent transportation network with an underground train system that can take you around the city speedily.

Alternatively, you can hop on one of the iconic red double-decker buses, and make your way through the bustling streets to your destination.

You'll be able to see the meeting point of each tour before booking so that you can plan your route in advance.

How long does it last?

A standard Changing of the Guard tour in London typically lasts between 1.5 and 2 hours. The procession itself lasts just over an hour and you'll spend some time before reaching the palace with your guide, and learning about the ceremony.

These types of tours are a great option for those who have limited time to spend in London but don't want to miss out on watching this royal parade.

However, if you opt for an excursion that includes other attractions, you can expect it to last anywhere from 3 to 9 hours.

Those that last longer provide greater insight into British culture and will help to further your education on the city's landmarks. If you have the time to spare, these more complete sightseeing tours in London are the best choice.

When is the best time for a Changing of the Guard tour in London?

The Changing of the Guard happens at 10:45 AM daily during the summer months of June and July, and lasts approximately an hour in total.

Throughout the rest of the year — from August to May — the ceremony happens four times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

The Changing of the Guard is a novel and quintessentially British tradition, which happens in the center of the city, and is the perfect sight to see on one of your first days in London.

Travel tips

  • The Changing of the Guard parade does not take place in cases of heavy rain. In order to maximize your chances of seeing the procession, book a Changing of the Guard tour in London during the summer months when the weather is the most reliable.
  • Make sure you stay a safe distance from the parade as guards have royal orders not to stop if a pedestrian is in their path.
  • You can view the Changing of the Guard at three different points along the parade: Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace and Wellington Barracks.
  • There are no undercover shelters for spectators so bring an umbrella and an extra layer with you on your Changing of the Guard tour in London.

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