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Horse Guards

Horse Guards (95)

Horse Guards is the name of the Palladian-style building that is used as the headquarters of the cavalry belonging to the Royal Guards. This is where soldiers of the regiments that form this body of troops, the Life Guards and the Blue and Royal Guards, have stood on guard since 1660, since until 1841, when the far end of the Mall next to Trafalgar Square was opened, this was the only official entrance to Saint James’s and Buckingham Palace.

Despite their function today being little more than symbolic, they still have the task of protecting the sovereign and do not let anyone pass without authorisation. At specific times they even demand a password.  

The building was erected in the mid-18th century according to a project of the architect William Kent, although, due to his death, it was entrusted to John Vardy to complete it. From Whitehall some arches lead to Horse Guards Parade, a large open square which extends before Saint James’s Park. Every year this open piece of ground hosts the ceremony called the Trooping of the Colour, in which, after a spectacular military parade, the Queen inspects a series of regiments dressed for the occasion in gala uniform.

The imperturbable mounted sentries stand on guard between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. They draw the tourists like a magnet, who love to take photos of them, above all during the changing of the guard, which takes place every day at 11 a.m., except on Sundays, when it takes place at 10 a.m. Having finished their shift, the group of sentries, made up of between 12 to 15 soldiers, return to their barracks in Hyde Park.

For your information, you should know how to distinguish the members of the two regiments who stand on guard here. The Life Guards are those wearing the red tunic and helmets with white mane, while the Blue and Royal Guards are recognised by their blue military jacket and helmet decorated with a red mane.

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