Horse Guards Parade review (Oct 2012)
This is out-of-date! I have been here again since I wrote this review
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I've seen Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace already, so I went to see other one today -- Changing the Guard on Horse Guards Parade. I'm not going to tell you about that this week though, because it takes place in two different areas at once -- on the parade ground and also in the courtyard, through the arches. And I could only film one of them today. So I will tell you all about that next week, once I have had an opportunity to film the whole lot.
If you want to have your photo taken with the mounted sentries then you need to get there between 10 AM and 4 PM, because if you arrive outside of these times then all you'll get is a couple of foot soldiers instead. This is what I had this morning. The first one can be found on the righthand side of the courtyard, and he just marches back and forth in his gold plate armour and two-foot sword in his hand. I got there nice and early today so it was just him and me. Usually he is surrounded by about a million billion tourists, who take their turn walking up to him and having their picture taken. This goes on all day, every day. Just a million tourists and him, snap snap snapping away on their cameras. But it was just me and him today. I even asked him if it was alright for me to take a pic, because it felt rude to otherwise. He was just standing there minding his own business. The soldiers aren't allowed to say anything or interact with anyone, so he just gave a slight nod, I snapped, thanked him, and left him alone.
Like I said, I got there early, so I had the foot soldiers. But if you get there after 10 AM then you will be able to see the mounted sentries instead, on their horses. If you leave it too late though, then they will have swapped back to foot soldiers. (That is what the Dismounting Ceremony does, at 4 PM.)
Once you've had your photo taken with the guards head through the central arches into the parade ground. This is one of the finest views in the whole of London, I reckon. It looks pretty fantastic if you walk right out into the parade ground and turn around, to face the buildings. Starting from the left, you will see the red-coloured Admiralty Building. It used to houses the Navy offices during the wars, but now it's Ministry of Defence. You can't go in there, unfortunately. Carrying on round to the right, before you get to the central building, is the brigade headquarters of the Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards (basically, the Household Cavalry). They've got a museum in there which you can visit. You can even go inside and see them mucking out the horses in the stables.
Carrying on round to the right again, there's a just a load of government offices, none of which are particularly interesting for a tourist. But on the far righthand side though, before you hit the road, is probably the most interesting brick wall in Westminster. It's the dark brown brick wall with a big black gate in it. You will probably also see a couple of big machine gun cops standing nearby as well, because on the other side of that wall is the garden for No.10 Downing Street. You've probably seen them do a few interviews in it on the 10 o'clock news... well, that's where it is. On the other side of that wall. If you stare at that big black gate you might even see David Cameron coming out for his early morning run around St. James's Park.
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