Monday, February 09, 2015

Trip of a Lifetime: London - Buckingham Palace

I hope you're enjoying the pictures of our globe-trotting adventures! I'm trying to get these done quickly, but I don't want to lump everything together into one post. Thanks for reading!

On Tuesday of our week in London, we visited the place I did not want to miss: Buckingham Palace! I was super excited about seeing the palace and visiting the various attractions related to it.

The famous balcony
The first thing we did was walk around to the front of the palace and just look. We wanted to see the guards, the balcony where the royal family gathers to wave at the crowds, the changing of the guard . . . anything I could see without getting in trouble! ;)

The most amazing thing to me was that the palace is just right there in the city! Of course, I knew that, but I didn't realize that there would be traffic going right past, and that we could just walk right beside it. I'm sure there are plenty of security measures in place, but I was surprised that we could get as close as we did.

The Queen Victoria Memorial, in front of the Palace
We looked through the fence at the front of the palace and decided to come back for the Changing of the Guard. We knew there would be a crowd, so we decided to come back about an hour before the ceremony. We learned that was wise!

In the meantime, though, we toured the Royal Mews. This is where all the horses, carriages, and cars are kept for the royal family. Basically any and every kind of transportation for state duties or for personal use was in this building. We saw a few horses, but most of the displays were of carriages and cars. We saw the carriages that have been used for hundreds of years, all the way up to the most modern ones, including the Queen's Diamond Jubilee State Coach. It was easy to spend lots of time here, especially with our audio tour headsets! We could take our time.

The Queen's Jubilee State Coach
We headed back to the front of the palace to see if we could catch the Changing of the Guard. There was some doubt if they would have it that day, because of rain. But eventually we realized they were indeed having it, and we were in a fairly good place to see it. If you look at the front of the palace, we were on the far left, standing behind just a couple of people. We all got to be good friends in the hour and a half we stood there! The police came by several times to remind us how to protect ourselves against pickpockets - a very common occurrence because of all the people crowded around - as we stood under umbrellas and waited. And waited. And waited. Have you ever tried to stand beneath 5 or 6 umbrellas held by people of varying heights, with the little points dripping from the rain? I don't know how many times I nearly got jabbed in the eye!

This was my view of the Changing of the Guard. Doesn't look like much, but I was only one person away from the fence. By the time it started, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people crowding in to see.
Finally the ceremony started. The "guards" are actually composed of five infantry regiments. The group guarding the Queen at any given time is the "Queen's Guard." When the guard changes, a new regiment marches to the palace grounds and changes places with the guards on duty, and they become the Queen's Guards. As I've said before, I love pomp and splendour, and this ceremony had plenty of it. Lots of marching and music and slapping of guns on the ground. The whole ceremony took 45 minutes. After it was over, we were a little underwhelmed, but I'm glad we got to see it. There are just some things you have to do when you go to London, you know!

Here comes the new guard!
This guard was leaving the grounds after his shift

This carriage with a couple of people in it drove into the palace grounds during the ceremony, the people got out and went inside, but we have no idea who they were!
What would be your must-see thing in London?

Trip of a Lifetime!
South Africa
London - Windsor Castle
London - Tower Bridge
London - Tower of London
London - Buckingham Palace
London - Westminster Abbey and Churchill War Museum
London - Bunhill Field

1 comment:

  1. If I ever went to London, this would be one of my must-sees as well. Thanks for sharing it with us!


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