The Changing of the Guard takes place at Windsor Castle amidst the stunning backdrop of the oldest and largest occupied Royal Castle in the world. The High Street is regularly lined by sightseers, watching as traffic is halted to allow the troops to march along the route from the barracks to the castle led by a colourful regimental band and then later the return of the old Guard following a 24- or 48-hour watch.
Huge amounts of money were invested into the restoration of the castle during the reign of Edward III. Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert used the Castle as their much-loved family home and now it has become the family home of our Queen and you have the chance to see and experience this awe-inspiring site. Home to our Monarchs for over 900 years.
The regiment who have been responsible for protecting Windsor Castle handover to new troops to ensure a continuous watch.
The ceremony has delighted residents and tourists alike for many years. Troops from Victoria Barracks, usually sourced from Foot Guards from the Household Division, begin the 11:00 march to music from the Regimental Band. The red tunics and black bearskin caps are unique, and a familiar sight instantly associated with our Queen.
Music is sometimes provided by the Corps of Drums with pipers occasionally playing a role.
The Guards are highly skilled, trained infantry soldiers. They take part in combat as well as ceremonial roles. Many have discovered it is unwise to impede or try to distract the soldiers from their duty.
In April 2007, British Army women served on the Queen's Guard whilst the Royal Horse Artillery took over guarding at the Castle. Watching the march to and from the Castle is free of charge, to watch within the grounds you will require tickets. It is recommended to arrive an hour early to clear security checks.
The Lower Ward of the castle is usually used for the handover but if the Queen is in residence, the ceremony is carried out on the lawn of the Quadrangle and can be seen by Her Majesty from the Royal Apartments.
The march begins outside the Guard room at the barracks continuing up Sheet Street, onto the High Street turning onto Castle Hill before marching to the castle.
For the Lower Ward ceremony, the New and Old Guard enter and leave through the Henry VIII Gate. For the formal ceremony, the Guards march up Castle Hill and enter through St George's Gate.
Changing the Windsor Castle Guard or also known as the Guard Mount, is usually orchestrated in the Lower Ward. The Guard waiting relief awaits the new gathering outside the Guard Room or the Quadrangle. The new Guard arrive, performing a Regimental Slow March up to the old Guard. Next, the Windsor Castle Guard and New Guard 'Present Arms'. Then the Captains hand-over the Castle keys, a symbolic gesture of touching of their left hands completes the process. Sentries are replaced and the duty bugler is informed. The band then plays a selection of music.
The new troop are then responsible for the security of the Castle until they hand over the duty. A good viewpoint is just below St Georges Chapel. Windsor Castle staff will be happy to direct you and advise. In the Upper Ward, on the lawn of the Quadrangle, standing next to St George's Gate, inside the Castle, will provide a close view of the action. Occasionally, the Moat Path is opened to the public.
The Old Guard wheel right, and quick march back to the barracks. The New Guard, remaining in the Palace, is ordered to 'Slope Arms' and takes over the watch. The Windsor Castle Guard remain on duty for 24 or 48 hours. Guardsmen provide a 2-hour sentry duty followed by a 4-hour break.