Friday, September 18, 2009

Buckingham Palace & Changing of the Guard

This is Rachel and Fred standing in front of the main gates to Buckingham Palace on the day we arrived in London. We had arrived at Heathrow around 6:15 a.m. When we got to our hotel we were able to check in, but our rooms weren't ready. So we drug our tired bodies to, where else, Buckingham Palace. We walked through Hyde Park to get there. It was a pretty walk, and we had great weather. We actually had wonderful weather the entire time we were in London. Blue skies and sunny.
I love the uniforms of the Palace guards, with their big furry hats. I always wonder how much the hats weigh. In September, the changing of the guards ceremony happens every other day. This was not one of those days.
This was. This is the crowd starting to gather outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday, 9/12. We got here about an hour before the ceremony was to start, and I'm glad we did. We had a heck of a time getting there, though. The Underground closes several of its stops and/or lines on weekends for construction. I had had our route planned out ahead of time....Jubilee Line south from Bond Street, one stop to Green Park. Then we would walk through the park to the Palace. We got to the Bond Street station and found out the Jubilee line wasn't running between those stops. So we took the Central line east one stop to Oxford Circus, where I thought we could pick up the Victoria Line to Green Park. Victoria Line wasn't running either. So I pulled out my map of London and we started walking. We hadn't gone that far out of the way, so it was no big deal, and we made it in time to get a good spot along the curb.
And we waited at that spot for about an hour. It was interesting, though. Lots of people watching to be done.
It was funny when these two palace guards walked by, because a lot of people were walking alongside of them while someone else would run ahead to get their pictures with the guards.
Finally it started. The first band that appeared went into the gate that was down farther to our left. This band came right past us.
After the two bands and the different units were inside the gate, we had more waiting to do while the actual changing of the guard took place. Only people who were right along the gate were able to see what was going on.
This police officer was very nice, but his poor horse seemed sad. Every time it went by us his head was down like this. The horse's name is Lincoln. When I commented that that's a nice name, the officer said "after our city," meaning NOT after our president, which made me laugh.
Then they opened the main gates, which were right in front of us. I noticed when they closed the gate back up, the guard used an actual key in the lock on the gate, which struck me as kind of funny. Huge palace, huge gates, and a huge skeleton key to lock everything up.
The bands came out first.
Then these handsome fellas. With their really big weapons. These guards went to the left.
These went to the right.
And then we headed for Richmond and Kew.

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