The traditional ceremony of the changing of the guards is a free must see thing to check out in London. There are two changes that take place each morning and you can easily see them both, just make sure to check the schedule before you go. For us, the Horse Guards changed at 11 while the changing at Buckingham Palace took place at 11:30. The Queen’s life guard changes at Horse Guards Parade Whitehall (image left) and then the Queen’s guard will change at the palace.
To get from Whitehall to Buckingham Palace we walked through St. James Park. St. James Park is the oldest park in London at the center of ceremonial life for over 400 years! The park is filled with beautiful gardens and a floral crown to commemorate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (image right). The crown is 4 meters high, 2.5 meters wide and weighs around 5 tonnes! There is a total of 13,500 plants in it.
With all the gardens in the park they added a lake, and with the lake comes many, many, many birds! I had a great conversation with a goose as it followed me around the water. Also, the squirrels here are way too comfortable. They would come right up to you and eat out of your hand! The most amazing sight we saw in the park was this old man sitting with the bird in the image to your left. The bird hardly moved, at first we thought it was fake or trained for money or something but no! You could even pet it if you wanted. I didn’t as any sudden movement of it and I probably would’ve freaked out and scared it away.
After the many distractions in the park we finally made it to Buckingham Palace. Sadly the Queen was not home but we still had a good visit, perhaps later on this year we can see her.
My favourite thing about the palace are the elaborate gates surrounding the outside. I know I’m biased but Canada’s gates, the ones closest to Green Park, are the best (image right). Behind the gates is the Canada Memorial that pays tribute to the men and women who served the UK during the first and second world wars. For more info on the memorial check out Veterans Affairs Canada.
This area you can definitely spend the entire day wandering around in. There’s plenty more in the area besides those that I’ve mentioned above like the Parliament Buildings and Westminister Abbey. For us though, they will be another day.