Queen Victoria was the first person to reside in Buckingham Palace in 1837. Today, part of the palace is still used by the Royal family with a number of rooms reserved for staff members living there. In all, the palace has about 600 rooms.
We did not do a tour of the Palace, but we did get there early enough to see the Changing of the Guard…..sort of.
The changing of the guard takes place daily at 11 o'clock in front of Buckingham Palace. A colorfully dressed detachment, known as the New Guard, parades along the street in front of Buckingham Palace and during a ceremony replaces the existing, Old Guard. The ceremony, which is accompanied by music played by a military band, attracts hundreds of visitors. Below, you can see where people are starting to line up.
From my experience, there are two parts to the ceremony and you have to choose which one you want to see most in order to get the best viewing spot. We did not know this going in, but can now pass this advice along to you!
Spot #1 – get as close to the high black fence as possible to see the actual changing of the guard ceremony. You will have to get there early to get a good spot (at least one hour in advance).
Spot #2 – Get behind the roped off area right in front of the fence with your back to the Palace. From this vantage point, you will be able to see the guard marching on the street in front of the palace and will be able to get some great unobstructed photo’s.
We stood for a long time before things got rolling. They clear the street area in front of the Palace about 40 minutes before the ceremony starts, directing you to get behind the roped off area. There are mounted guards/police that help keep the streets cleared.
Was it worth it? I did not care for the long wait and feel that I was only able to see half of the ceremony. I guess if I ever go back, I might get the spot against the fence to see the actual changing of the guard. If you have limited time in London, I would recommend skipping it.