They're back on guard! The changing of the guards ceremony at London's Buckingham Palace returned on Monday after being put on pause in March 2020 over fears of crowds gathering as the pandemic set in last year.
The royal family shared footage of the tradition's return on its Instagram page yesterday, with the caption "Look who's back at Buckingham Palace…"
While the ceremony took place daily pre-pandemic and attracted millions of visitors a year, it returns with a reduced schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays in the Buckingham Palace forecourt for the time being, according to the palace's Household Division's site.
At Monday's changing of the guards — also called the Guard Mounting — the State Ceremonial Musicians of the Bands of the Household Division performed, the Instagram post explained. Specifically, the Band of the Coldstream Guards and Band of the Scots Guards played a tribute in the form of the song "Gold" by the Spandau Ballet for the nation's Paralympians competing at the Tokyo 2020 Games, which start today.
The Buckingham Palace ceremony starts in Friary Court at St. James's Palace when a detachment of the Old Guard forms at 10:30 a.m. and is inspected by the Captain of the Queen's Guard. They then march with a band or drum corps in front of them, reaching Buckingham Palace's Forecourt at 10:43 a.m. through the South Centre Gate. At the same time, the detachment of Old Guard at Buckingham Palace forms and the two meet up.
The New Guard then forms at Wellington Barracks, is inspected around 10:40 a.m., and reaches the palace at 11 a.m. through the North Centre Gate, as the ceremony starts up.
Over at Windsor Castle, the changing of the guards had restarted on July 22 and now takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
But the palace is still cautious about the spread of the coronavirus. "We encourage the public to take a rapid lateral flow test before going to any major event or attraction as part of keeping everyone safe," the Household Division's site for the ceremony reads, also adding, "We encourage people to wear face coverings in busy or enclosed areas."
The U.S. State Department currently has a Level 4 "Do Not Travel" advisory to the United Kingdom "due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country."