Address: Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2AX

Time: Changing of the Guard 11.00am Monday to Saturday, 10.00am Sunday

Entry Price: Free

500m from Charing Cross

500m from Charing Cross

Horse Guards Parade is a parade ground off Whitehall and is the official entrance to St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace. Ceremonies take place which include the Changing of the Guard, which takes place every morning, and the Trooping of the Colour. The latter takes place on the Queen’s official birthday, being held on a Saturday in June. The starting times of the Changing of the Guard are 11am Monday to Saturday and 10am on Sunday.

Buildings on the perimeter include Horse Guards, which is constantly guarded by the Household Cavalry, and the Foreign Office. There are two regiments of the Household Cavalry, the Life Guards who originally protected Charles I and the Blues and Royals who served Oliver Cromwell. The garden walls of 10, Downing Street back on to it and it was from near Horse Guards Parade that a terrorist mortar was fired at the Prime Minister’s house in 1991.

The area used to be the tiltyard of the Whitehall Palace. This was at the time of Henry VIII and was a place for tournaments and jousting. It became part of the headquarters of the Army in the 19th century with the Duke of Wellington being based at Horse Guards at one point.

In the 20th century it became a huge civil service car park, but it eventually reverted to a public place and a tourist attraction. There are a number of memorials and monuments that include captured armoury from historic wars. A feature on the clockface of a nearby clock tower shows the number 2 with a black background. This is believed to have been the time when King Charles I was beheaded in nearby Banqueting House.

The venue is near St James’s Park and is occasionally used for public events. The volleyball for the 2012 Olympics was held here. The Horse Guards Museum is open to the public.

Due to the marvellous location, visitors can not only enjoy the daily ceremony, but also the surrounding area that includes some of the best London sites.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.