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Changing of the Guards, Changing of the Keys, Changing of the Horse Parade, which one?

Changing of the Guards, Changing of the Keys, Changing of the Horse Parade, which one?

Old Sep 1st, 2003, 01:37 PM
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Changing of the Guards, Changing of the Keys, Changing of the Horse Parade, which one?

Changing of the Guards, Changing of the Keys, Changing of the Horse Parade, which one?
If you only had time for one, which one would you see?
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Old Sep 1st, 2003, 01:49 PM
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First the names - Changing of the Guard, Changing of the Horse Guard, and the Ceremony of the Keys.

There is no relationship (or time conflict) between the two Guard changes and the Keys Ceremony. The Ceremony of the Keys is at 9:30PM and you must order tickets ahead of time by mail.

The other two are mid-mornings, and of the two the Horse Guards is easier to see, takes less time and is just less of a hassle.
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Old Sep 1st, 2003, 01:53 PM
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We really enjoyed the Changing of the Guard. We've seen it twice--the first time we got there very early as recommended and sat on the monument across from the palace gate--great view if you don't mind climbing up the monument! We were much younger then.

The second time we got there at the last minute and we were able to make our way right up to the sidewalk at the gate.

One of the reasons we like it is that if there are any dignitaries visiting the palace, they are part of the prcoession, riding in a horse and carriage--of course that was two years ago and things may have changed.

Be sure to take the time to visit the stables just around the corner from the palace if you're interested.
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Old Sep 1st, 2003, 01:55 PM
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Agree with Janis.
 
Old Sep 1st, 2003, 02:02 PM
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I'm curious if I'm the only one who finds all of those ceremonies quite boring? I agree about visiting the stables (mews) behind the Palace. I found that very interesting. Maybe I'm just not a stand-around-and-wait type guy, but I found the long drawn out changing ceremonies to be uninteresting.
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Old Sep 1st, 2003, 02:16 PM
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Patrick: I agree w/ you up to a point. In the "old days" (like 25+ years ago - they weren't long drawn out affairs. You could just wander over and catch part when you heard the marching/music. But now you have to stand around biding your time to see a fraction of what you could see on a travel video. I never recommend folks go to the Changing of the Guard - but for some it is just a "must". Sort of like they haven't been to London if they haven't gone to see the guard.

Horse guards is less so - but it is starting to get more crowded.

But the Ceremony of the Keys is a different kettle of fish - it is short, atmospheric, totally uncrowded, and makes you feel sort of special being inside the Tower at night, even if it is only for a few minutes. I have been maybe 6 or 7 times and will probably never tire of it.
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Old Sep 1st, 2003, 03:18 PM
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We also found Changing of the Guard to be a disappointment.
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Old Sep 1st, 2003, 03:56 PM
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We haven't been to Changing of the Horse Guards, but of the other two, I'd definitely pick the Ceremony of the Keys!
Annette
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Old Sep 1st, 2003, 04:12 PM
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Our first experience of the Changing of the Guards was almost 30 years ago. It was our first visit to London and we were thrilled.

We've made many return visits, skipping the ceremony, but on the last couple of trips we wereaccompanied by friends who were seeing the city for the first time. Of course they wanted to see the Changing of the Guard and we felt obliged to accompany them. We're glad we did.

I suppose that if your trip is so short you barely have time to hop off the hop on/hop off bus, it makes sense to skip the ceremony. For the best view you must arrive early and be prepared to see nothing for quite a long time. (I bring a book.) But one of the prime reasons to visit Britain is to observe a pageantry that exists pretty much no where else. And the Changing of the Guard is a big part of that.
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Old Sep 1st, 2003, 04:20 PM
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How about the Changing of the Crown Jewels? That's when Prince Charles calls Camila and asks to eat her underwear. Oh yes, the pagentry!
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 04:30 AM
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The crown jewels are now going to Camilla!
 
Old Feb 10th, 2005, 04:42 AM
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Oh no they're not.

The crown jewels are worn by the monarch. In the (unlikely, IMHO) event of Big Ears getting the job, the Princess Consort (as Camilla apparently will be known) will have no dibs on any of them.
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 05:25 AM
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Thanks you for correcting me, that makes me feel better!
 
Old Feb 10th, 2005, 05:51 AM
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We lied the Changing of the Guard at the Horse Parade - but then I'm a horse fan. The changing of the Guard at BP was incredibly boring - consists mostly of a band playing a lot of really out of date music - don;t really get it.

(Have seen Guard changings in other countries which were much better - quite military - a little precision prancing about of cute guys in spiffy costumes - much better value for the time. I think Copenhagen was my favorite.)
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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We're visiting London for the first time in June (and are ignorant). Can you tell me, what is the Ceremony of the Keys all about? Thanks for the info on the changing of the guards... I had no idea it would be such a long wait. We'll only be there for two days and probably would want to make better use of our time...
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 03:56 PM
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We went to see the changing of the guards and approached on the left hand side (as you are looking at the palace). We came upon the area where the guards get organized before they march out to the changing. It was great. There were no crowds, the band played - just great!
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 06:03 PM
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We've seen all three ceremonies and have been disappointed in both of the Changing of the Guards (especially at Buckingham Palace.) I would highly recommend the Ceremony of the Keys over either of the guard changes.

Check out the London Superthread for links to the Ceremony of the Keys.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34548473
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 07:06 PM
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I agree with the majority of the posters - if you can only do one, the Ceremony of the Keys is my top pick.

I do like the Horse Guards, too, but I've always loved horses, so I just enjoy watching them during the ceremony. (I also like to walk by during the day and stop and look at the horses stationed outside the building. Amazing how still both man and beast and for how long. In "the old days" it was OK to feed a slice of apple to the horse, but I'm betting that is no longer allowed.)

Be sure and write ahead of time for those Ceremony of the Keys tickets. They are limited, and you need to tell them what day(s) you're going to be available.

I've never actually seen the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. I actually showed up once (early) and still wasn't able to actually see anything. Yawn. (I love pageantry, but if you can't actually see that pageantry...)

Gayle

P.S., Someone asked for more info about what the Ceremony is: it's the locking of the Tower of London for the night. Essentially a process/ceremony that's been in effect for hundreds of years, and includes a check of various gates, trumpets (or is it just one? haven't been there for years) playing to signal the end of the day, and some fascinating history and information about the significance of the ceremony. If this description sounds boring, please believe me that the actual event is much better!
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 05:56 AM
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I liked the Ceremony of the Keys a lot and will probably attend again some time.

One event that hasn't been mentioned above (I think) is the Dismount of the Horse Guard. I arrived seconds bfore it started and had a good view. No problem with the crowd.

Not that it is the level of pageant of the Changing of the Guard, but if you will be in that area in the late afternoon, it is worth walking over.

A couple of my photos: http://www.mightymac.org/gb027.JPG
http://www.mightymac.org/gb026.JPG

Keith
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 06:02 AM
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Actually, there is a very common misconception amongst tourist. It is not "Changing of the Guard" but rather, "Changing of the Gourd."

You see, way back about three billion years ago, when King Edward the Pre-Vert was gaily entertaining the citizenry, especially women and sheep, a plot developed to overthrow him. The citizens who were not being entertained where tired of being entertained upon, you see. As the plot thickened (I believe they added corn starch to do this...which was not yet known in England but that failed to stop them), the king became aware of the thickening plot, and called upon his court magician, the great great great great great grandfather of Merlin. His name was Sir Clinton. Sir Clinton was capable of casting great spells that would convince people of anything. Anything at all.

Sir Clinton convinced King Edward the Pre-Vert that he had a magic gourd, and upon receiving substantial sums of money and a high standing in the public opinion polls, Sir Clinton turned the magic gourd over to the king. The king was overthrown and was sentenced to watching re-runs of "Gilligan's Island" for the rest of his natural days (and many natural nights, too). This was the ultimate of all tortures, and drove the king to insanity, even to the extent of thinking Jane Fonda was a great actress.

The citizens were overjoyed, and truly believed that it was the magic gourd that caused the overthrow of the dastardly king. The gourd was elevated to the stature of an authentic pseudo-god, and ever since then, has been put on display on the grounds of the palace.

Several times per day, amid Pomp and Circumstance, the gourd is changed for another gourd, to prevent the gourd from being over taxed with all the attention from the tourists who have come to admire it. Mr. Pomp and Mr. Circumstance were the original caretakers of the gourd, but they have long since, shall we say, expired? They are rather crusty now, but they are wheeled out with each Changing of the Gourd, just as they did so many years ago.

Now, a word of warning. Some tourists are not satisfied with just looking, they must touch, and they think it is neat to sneak onto the grounds and actually touch the gourd. DON'T DO IT! The gourd is protected round the clock with a bevy of specially trained attack squirrels. They are mean and vicious, and they are indeed partial to nuts.

--Marv

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