The capital of Great Britain, London is one of the most historical cities. It is known for having the modern and old elements coexisting in a complementary fashion. It’s one of the best destinations to tick off on your bucket list. From the double-decker buses to the Westminster Palace, Big Ben and other notable places, the constantly bustling city offers a varied range of side attractions to its visitors.
Perhaps the most spectacular aspects of visiting the capital is getting a first-time glimpse of the world-famous Royal Guard, who stand at constant attention at the forefront of Buckingham Palace. Their expressionless, frozen stares often awe visitors, as they seek to understand why these noble men, irrespective of their ‘interesting’ attire, do not make any contact with passers-by or tourists.
The process of getting the bearskin used for the caps of the guards is sometimes described on some writing sites that allow you to buy essay services and carry out other research activities related to the monarchy.
But there would always be an underlying reason – could it be that the ‘modus operandi’ of the Royal soldiers is backed by historical tidbits?
The Royal soldiers, officially recognized as the Queen’s Guard, is the term used to refer to the horseback and foot military personnel whose only entrustment is to guard the official lodgings of the Royal family in the UK. Contrary to popular opinion that the soldiers stand beside the Royal residences for purely aesthetic purposes, they are actually seriously trained soldiers, with a high discipline threshold. They have functioned as a permanent institution since the days of Henry the 7th.
The Royal Guard’s foot soldiers, in obedience to existing laws, can be provided by any Commonwealth country. However, a large percentage of this personnel is sourced from about five regiments, among which are the Welsh and Coldstream Guards. It is also known that during special events, the Royal Marines have provided personnel to serve in this position.
One of the operational areas of these noble soldiers is the Westminster Palace, and at its northern end is a world-famous visiting spot – the clock tower that houses the ‘Big Ben’ great bell. Officially known as Elizabeth’s Tower, the tower stands a whopping 315 ft. above ground level. It houses the largest of five bells in the country. It was part of the design novelties proposed by the renowned English architect, Sir C. Barry. The design was created in the wake of a fire hazard which gutted a notable part of the previous Westminster Palace.
The clock tower stands a good distance from a few well-known London museums in the area and is known to be the most reliable four-faced clock in the world i.e. it has pin-point time accuracy.
Another aspect that never ceases to stupefy tourists and visitors is the height of the caps worn by the soldiers on duty. These caps, traditionally called bearskins, are not created for fashion purposes either. They form an essential aspect of the uniform, and according to history, were first worn at the Battle of Waterloo. They are made from original bearskins, each cap weighing almost 0.7 kg and being almost 46 cm tall.
Each posting period lasts for four hours. When it’s time to change personnel, it is done in a traditional manner - known as the changing of the guard. This ceremony is elaborate and solemn, occurring at all important institutions that use the services of this distinguished personnel. This event which happens in front of Buckingham Palace can last more than half an hour.
- The Old Guard is inspected in the forecourts of the Royal residence where they were posted.
- Then, backed by music, this set performs the march towards Buckingham Palace, where they join the regiment that presided on duty at the residence for the same period.
- Together the two divisions await new regiment.
- Meanwhile, the new regiment is inspected before exiting the barracks. Also supported by band music, they march to the palace.
- On arrival, the new regiment will march in and halt directly facing the old regiment.
- The musicians then play the regimental Slow March for the guard resuming duties, after which both regiments acknowledge with rifles. Then the key of the Palace is transferred to the resuming division. The handover of the key is iconic for the handover of responsibilities among officials.
- Their shifts last for four hours. During that time, they are not allowed to sit, eat, drink or smoke for more than 10 minutes. Most guards would be seen doing an occasional ‘sentry march’ at their duty posts.
- They aren’t supposed to show any emotions. This is a big part of their discipline training.
- They don’t take too kindly to taunting. It’s best to observe them with respect from a distance.
It can be a bit unappreciative if you get a Big Ben as a London souvenir and have no idea of the souvenir's meaning.
- Big Ben is symbolic of the continuous operation of the British Government.
- The Royal Guard is a symbol of law and order, they reflect the high organizational level of the Monarchy.
Having plans to visit London soon? You would do well to include these Royal places in your list, and experience the beauty of Old English architecture.