Changing the Guard at Horse Guards
Start your visit by watching the ‘Changing of The Queen’s Life Guard’ on Horse Guards Parade in central London – daily at 11am (and 10am on Sundays). It lasts around 30 mins. Although not as well known as Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the crowds are much smaller, there are no railings (between you and the guards) and the photo opportunities are tremendous.
‘The Queen’s Life Guard’ is mounted on immaculately groomed horses. These men and women belong to the ‘Household Cavalry’ – a squadron of mounted Life Guards (red tunics and white plumed helmets) and a squadron of mounted Blues and Royals (blue tunics and red plumed helmets).
Life Guards have stood guard at Horse Guards (the official entrance to St James and Buckingham Palace) since the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660.
One of the most photographed bridges in the world, it was built in 1894 to provide shipping access into the ‘Pool of London’. It is a medieval Gothic style, to blend with the adjacent Tower of London, but underneath the ornate stonework is a framework of steel. Drive or walk across the bridge to experience its full grandeur.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is the most historic castle in England. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078. Originally, a resented symbol of oppression, the castle has been a fortification, royal palace, prison and a gunpowder store. It’s still home to the Crown Jewels – a dazzling multi-million pound collection of gold and diamonds created by Charles II upon the restoration of the monarchy.
Expansions to the castle were made under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III and Edward I. From the early 14th century until the reign of Charles II, a procession would be led from the Tower to Westminster Abbey on the coronation of a monarch – along today’s Cheapside (old English for ‘shopside’) in the City of London.
Visit the rooms where Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, Thomas Cranmer and Sir Thomas More were imprisoned. and see where Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard ended their days.