The Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace is one of the great royal traditions. But on one particular day in the early ’00s, the military ceremony was conducted like it had never been before. Here’s a look at the highly emotive reason why the Queen decided to break centuries-old protocol.
The history of the Queen’s Guard and King’s Guard dates all the way back to the English Restoration of 1660. King Charles II was the first royal to have their British sovereign’s palaces protected by various cavalry and infantry soldiers. Although many believe that the Guards are only ceremonial, they are in fact entirely operational.
The Queen’s Guard refers to the infantry tasked with protecting St. James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace. The contingent boasts three officers and no less than 40 other ranks whenever the monarch is in residence. Four sentries are posted at either the forecourt or entrance of each palace to patrol the grounds and keep guard 24/7.