The Queen’s Guard and Queen’s Life Guard are the names given to contingents of infantry and cavalry soldiers charged with guarding the official royal residences in London. The British Army had regiments of both Horse Guards and Foot Guards predating the English Restoration (1660), and since the reign of King Charles II these have been responsible for guarding the Sovereign’s palaces.
The Queen’s Guard and Queen’s Life Guard is mounted at the royal residences that come under the operating area of the British Army’s London District, which is responsible for the administration of the Household Division. This covers Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and the Tower of London, as well as Windsor Castle. The Queen’s Guard is also mounted at the sovereign’s other official residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, but not as regularly as in London. In Edinburgh, the guard is the responsibility of the resident infantry battalion at Redford Barracks. It is not mounted at the Queen’s private residences at Sandringham or Balmoral.
The guard is usually found from one of the five regiments of foot guards:
When The Queen is in residence, there are four Foot Guards at the front of the building; when she is away there are two. The Queen’s Guard changes in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11.30 am, and lasts about 45 minutes. There is no Guard Mounting in very wet weather. During the autumn and winter, Guard Mounting takes place on alternate days, but it is held daily during spring and summer. During the month of April 2009, the Changing the Guard will take place at Buckingham Palace on even dates, i.e. 2, 4, 6, and daily at Windsor Castle. From May to July 2009 inclusive, Changing the Guard will take place daily at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. They are wearing full dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins (hats).
Buckingham Palace is immediately adjacent to St James’s Park and The Green Park.
The Queen’s Household Cavalry is the mounted guard at the entrance to Horse Guards Arch, which is located east of St James’s Park. Horse Guards Arch is the official main entrance to both St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace.
The Guard Changing Ceremony takes place takes place daily at 11am (10am on Sundays) and lasts about 30 minutes.
The mounted sentries (who change every hour) are on duty each day from 10am until 4pm, at which time there is a dismounted parade of the Guard.
There are two dismounted sentries on duty until the gates are shut at 8pm, when only one sentry is left on guard until 7am when the second sentry returns on duty.