This bucket list item was completed on 4th October 2016 in London, England, UK.
This story continues from where #78 Make a Call form a London Phone Booth left off. Over a few pints, Jackie shared with me the harsh truth, that I was not going to get a photo of me making faces at a Buckingham Palace guard. I heeded Jackie’s advice and made my way to the Tower of London instead.
Jackie claimed that the same guards were positioned at the Tower of London and I would probably have more luck getting a photo. I arrived outside the Tower of London at 8:30 am. This gave me time to grab some breakfast and take some photos of the surrounding area in the beautiful morning light.
The gates opened at 9:00 am and I took off into the fortress with nervous anticipation. I had no clue where to look for the guards, but I had a map. I followed it around to a few spots where I thought guards might be present. I was there so early that it was dead, no one was walking around, not even the guards.
When I did come across guards, they were dressed in dark blue suits, with different, but equally funny-looking hats. Turns out these were the Yeomen Warders, more popularly known as Beefeaters. They were not the guards that I had in mind, so I persisted. I continued to walk around in search of the men dressed in red suits with beavers attached to their heads.
After 45 minutes, I admitted defeat, realising that I was not going to find the guards that I was looking for. I decided to switch back to my original plan. The changing of the guard was not until 11:00 am so I knew that I had time to make it over to Buckingham Palace.
After a brief tube ride and a bit of walking, I found myself congregating outside of the Buckingham Palace gates, with hundreds of other people. The guards were well inside of the gates and it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to get a selfie with any of them. I ran around all sides of the gates to see whether there was a better vantage point, but they were all the same.
One of the main gates was open and was only blocked off with a barricade. I figured that meant guards would be coming in and out, so I decided to hang around there. It was obvious that we were not supposed to stand directly in front of the barricade, but one woman wanted to get a better photo, so she went for it.
Coincidentally, there were two guards approaching the gates, from outside of the palace. They were walking straight for her, yet she was unaware of their presence. They did not change their path at all and continued straight for her. When they were about two metres away from her, one of them yelled, “MAKE WAY FOR THE QUEEN’S GUARD!”
The woman nearly jumped out of her skin and tried to get out of the way, but didn’t have enough time. The guard in front continued on his path and shoulder bashed the lady out of the way. This is when I realised that Jackie was right. If you mess with these guards, you are going to end up in the hospital…
Not long after the incident, the Changing of the Guard began. I watched the ceremony from outside of the gate. It was amazing to witness, but not what I had come here to accomplish.
I had no idea what was involved in the whole ceremony, but I figured it out pretty quickly. The Buckingham Palace Old Guard is joined by the St James’s Palace Old Guard inside of the gates. Then the New Guard arrives from Wellington Barracks. After the ceremony takes place, the Old Guard march back to St James’s Palace.
I missed the St James’s Old Guard and the Wellington Barracks New Guard as they came in but was ready for the Old Guard when they left. As they marched back up the street, I frantically ran ahead of them and then tried to get into a position where I could take a selfie, without being assaulted by one of the guards or trampled by a horse.
I leap-frogged about four times to try to get closer and closer. Eventually I was able to get close enough to snap a decent photo. It was definitely not what I had in mind when I put this one on the list but with what I had learned through the experience, I was happy to cross that one off the list.
Turns out things don’t always happen like they do in the movies.
Have you taken a photo with a Buckingham Palace guard? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments below.
Make sure to read my next post, [#77 Lesson] Sometimes Life Isn’t Like the Movies, which discusses the lesson learned by completing this item. Want to be notified when it is posted? Subscribe below.
Dave has been on a mission, since 2010, to cross off the 100 items on his bucket list. The stories of his adventures are complimented by life lessons learned along the way and his travel tips are unique to his experiences.