london panoramic cityscape
London
Changing the Horse Guard
Whitehall
London SW1A 2AX
 
 
 
 
 
Horse Guards is normally guarded by troopers of the Household Cavalry, both mounted and on foot. Two mounted cavalry troopers are posted outside daily from 10:00 to 16:00 and are relieved every hour.
 
The daily Changing of the Horse Guard Ceremony takes place in the internal courtyard of Horse Guards fronting Whitehall. Visitors enter into the courtyard through the iron gates beside the sentry boxes and should ensure that they arrive early as this is a very popular ceremony. Police and guards will guide visitors.
 
Plan Your Visit
Times Ceremony Takes Place
Monday to Saturday (inclusive): 11:00
Sunday:                                  10:00
The ceremony lasts a maximum of 30 minutes and offers many photo opportunities.
 
Admission Cost
Free
 
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About The Guard
Mounted sentries are on duty between 10:00 and 16:00. The Dismounting Ceremony occurs at 16:00.
 
The troops who mount guard are the Queen’s personal Life Guards. They are drawn from men of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment which includes both the 'Life Guards' and the 'Blues and Royals'.
 
The Life Guards wear red tunics and helmets with white plumes, and the Blues and Royals wear dark blue tunics and red plumed helmets.
 
Composition of The Guard
- Long Guard
When the Queen is in London a 'Long Guard' is mounted. This consists of one Officer, one Corporal Major (who carries the Standard), two Non-Commissioned Officers, one Trumpeter and ten Troopers.
 
- Short Guard
When the Queen is not in London a 'Short Guard' is mounted. This consists of two Non-Commissioned Officers and ten Troopers.
 
History of the Household Cavalry
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The Household Cavalry was formed in 1661 under the direct order of King Charles II and now consists of the two senior regiments of the British Army – The Life Guards and the Blues and Royals.
 
The Household Cavalry has two roles:
- As a mounted regiment (on horseback), it guards Her Majesty the Queen on ceremonial occasions in London and across the UK, and are a key part of the Royal pageantry.
 
- As an operational regiment it serves around the world in armoured fighting vehicles. While on active service the Regiment’s fighting capacity is matched by its strategic role in international peace keeping and humanitarian operations.
 
A fine sight
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The Household Cavalry makes a fine sight trotting through Central London on their way to Horse Guards. With their plumed helmets and breastplates gleaming, and beautifully groomed horses they can be seen trotting from their barracks, through Hyde Park and down The Mall. The best place to get a close up view of them is to position yourself in Wellington Place at Hyde Park Corner. About 20 minutes later the old Guard returns via the same route.
 
Horse Guards Building
The current 18th century Horse Guards is on the site of the old 16th century Whitehall Palace. Designed by William Kent, it was built in 1755 around a square courtyard and is still the official entrance to Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace - this is why it still mounts a guard.
 
There are usually guided tours of the building on London Open House weekend, which takes place in September.
 
For more information on Horse Guards, see the article Horse Guards on this website.
 
Getting There
To find the best way for getting to Horse Guards, visit the TfL 'Journey Planner'.
 
- By Underground
Westminster Station District, Circle and Jubilee Lines
Charing Cross Station Bakerloo and Northern Lines
 
Charing Cross Station
Use the Trafalgar Square exit
 
- By bus
Routes – 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 77A, 88 and 159.
 
- Open Top Tour Bus
Do not forget that Visitors can use their ‘Open Top’ tour bus ticket to travel to 10 Downing Street, Horse Guards, The Banqueting House and the Houses of Parliament & Big Ben precinct.
 
- By Walking
A walk from either Trafalgar Square or Westminster Underground Station is an easy one along a flat route – usually takes about 15 minutes.  
 
Google Maps - Horse Guards