Dismounting Ceremony review (Oct 2012)
This is an old review Read my most recent review here
I've been to both 'Changing the Guard' ceremonies now (at Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade), and Trooping the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament too, so this was the last one to complete my set... the "Dismounting Ceremony", or "Four O'Clock Parade".
This one takes place every single day at Horse Guards, in the little courtyard that faces onto Whitehall. The reason that I've never been to it before is because I could never be bothered to wait around until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when it takes place. But today I steeled myself for the job and I did the deed.
Compared to the other ceremonies like Changing of the Guard, this one is just a sideshow. It's very short and not a lot happens. It's all over in ten minutes. All you get is six soldiers, two horses, and a big boss guy who walks around and shouts at them for two minutes. Then they all go inside. That is basically all that happens.
If you're going to do it then get there by 3.45 PM. The courtyard did eventually fill up with tourists, but you should easily be able to get a decent spot if you arrive 15 minutes beforehand. Shortly before 4 PM the two horsemen who are standing guard on Whitehall will enter the courtyard, followed by six soldiers from the barracks. They will all stand to attention and not do anything for a few minutes... waiting for the clock to strike 4 PM. As soon as that happens the big boss guy will come out of the arch and inspect them, walking around their front and back, checking their uniforms for spots of dust and what-not. Once he's done that he will order them inside. Then he will turn his attention to the mounted sentries, checking whether they have shined their shoes to perfection etc, then he will order them into the barracks as well. Once they have all disappeared the show is over.
If you like military displays and you've got a soft spot for the Changing of the Guard, then it makes sense to see this one too -- because it will complete your set. I was certainly glad that I did it. But it's one of those things that you can leave if you want, and you won't have missed much. If you happen to be down Whitehall at 4 PM, then pop in for a bit of pageantry. But otherwise give it a miss.
Here are some more parades…
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