Origins of Changing the Guards
Elite soldiers have guarded the King or Queen since the reign of Henry VII who made the Royal Body Guard a permanent institution which has spanned over 520 years of history.
Guards Regiments were formed to provide a personal bodyguard for the Sovereign with the first Guards raised in 1656 to protect the exiled King Charles II. Comprised of highly-trained officers and soldiers, they are among the oldest units of the British Army and have fought with great distinction in nearly every major conflict involving soldiers of the United Kingdom since the 17th century.
The Changing the Guard ceremony originally took place at the Palace of Whitehall which was the Sovereignâ€™s official residence in London until 1689. Thereafter, when the Court moved to St Jamesâ€™s Palace, the ceremony took place there.
After Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace in 1837, The Queenâ€™s Guard remained at St Jamesâ€™s Palace, with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace, as it still does today.
Today, the main ceremony is conducted at Buckingham Palace. The strength of the Guard is governed by The Queenâ€™s presence. If the Royal Standard is flying above the Palace, The Queen is in residence and the number of sentries is increased.
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