The Ceremony in detail
AtÂ 10:30am a detachment of the Old Guard forms up in Friary Court, St Jamesâ€™s Palace (Marlborough Road), and is inspected by the Captain of The Queenâ€™s Guard. This contingent then marches down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace preceded by a Band or Corps of Drums.
Meanwhile, the Buckingham Palace detachment of the Old Guard forms up in the Palace forecourt and is also inspected. At 10:43am, the St Jamesâ€™s Palace detachment enters the forecourt of Buckingham Palace through the South Centre gate and takes up position beside the Buckingham Palace detachment on the South side of the forecourt.
Now complete, the Old Guard awaits the arrival of the New Guard from Wellington Barracks.
At Wellington Barracks in Birdcage Walk, the New Guard and the Band form up. After being inspected at approximately 10:40am, the Band forms a circle and plays music while waiting for the arrival of the Regimental Colour (flag). When the New Guard is fully assembled, it marches out of the barracks towards Buckingham Palace.
The New Guard enters Buckingham Palace forecourt at approximately 11:00am through the North Centre Gate. It marches in front of the Band and halts to face the Old Guard.
The Band then plays the New Guardâ€™s Regimental Slow March as it advances towards the Old Guard. The Old Guard and New Guard then â€˜Present Armsâ€™ (salute with their rifles) after which the Captain of the Old Guard hands over the key to the Palace. This symbolic gesture represents the transfer of responsibility for the Palaceâ€™s security.
When The Sovereign is in residence, the Royal Standard is flown from the Palace. Upon such occasions, the Foot Guards on the forecourt of the Palace will wait for the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and will â€˜Present Armsâ€™, as the horses pass between The Queen Victoria Memorial, affectionately known as the â€˜Birthday Cakeâ€™, and Buckingham Palace.
After the â€˜Present Armsâ€™, Officers of both the Old Guard and New Guard salute the Senior Captain on parade with their swords. Retiring to the Guard Room, they will later report to the Senior Captain after completing handover procedures. During this period the Ensigns, carrying their respective Colours, patrol the length of the forecourt from left to right. Officers not directly involved in the ceremony will patrol between the Palace and both Guards.
As each new sentry is posted, a Lance Corporal distributes any special orders previously collected personally from the Palace by the Captains of the Guard. During these procedures the Regimental Band, originally accompanying the New Guard, moves to the centre of the forecourt, forms a semi-circle and plays a programme of music.
The original sentries, having been replaced by those from the New Guard, return to complete the Old Guard. The duty Drummer informs the Director of Music that the handover is complete. The Band then re-forms in front of the Centre Gates.
At approximately 11:35pm the Guards re-form and are called to â€˜Attentionâ€™. The Old Guard advances to its Regimental Slow March towards the New Guard. The Old and New Guard exchange compliments as the Old Guard exits through the Centre Gate preceded by the Band. Having left the Palace, the Old Guard â€˜breaks into quick timeâ€™ and continues its march back to Wellington Barracks.
The New Guard remaining in the Palace is given the order to â€˜Slope Armsâ€™. The detachment then divides into two. Those responsible for guarding St Jamesâ€™s Palace, usually led by the remaining Band or Corps of Drums, march off down the Mall to place the Regimental Colour in the Guard Room at St Jamesâ€™s Palace. The Buckingham Palace detachment then retires to the Palace Guard Room to assume its duties.