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United Kingdom > Culture and festivals > Royal ceremonies in the UK

Great British ceremonies.

Many of Britain's oldest ceremonies have links with royalty.

Changing of the Guard 

If you're in London, it's easy to see the Changing of the Guard. The monarch's soldiers - in their famous red tunics and bearskin hats - have been performing this task since the 18th century. It takes place at 11.30am (although you may want to get there a bit earlier to see the build-up) every day between April and July outside Buckingham Palace and every other day for the rest of the year - check for the schedule.

It also takes place at Windsor, around an hour by train from London, on occasion. You might be surprised by some of the music from the band as well as traditional tunes, it includes pop songs and music from films and musicals!

Trooping the Colour 

The Queen, like all British monarchs, has two birthdays. On her real one on 21 April, there's a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21-gun salute in Windsor and a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London. Her official birthday is held on a Saturday in June and is marked by Trooping the Colour, which this year (2016) takes place on 11 June. This is when the Queen takes the salute rom more than 1,000 soldiers and musicians on Horseguards Parade, a ceremony that dates back more than 400 years.  Head to the Mall by St James' Park if you want a good view of the procession going past. Afterwards, there's a flyover that the Queen and her family view from the famous balcony at Buckingham Palace.  

In 2016, there are extra events to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday including street parties across Britain on 12 June and The Patron's Lunch, a huge party on The Mall.

State Opening of Parliament 

Another annual ceremony, the State Opening of Parliament, takes place between September and December. The Queen, in her carriage, with the State Crown in a separate carriage, is led by soldiers from Buckingham Palace to Whitehall.

Remembrance Sunday
Remembrance Sunday in early November sees the Queen and the Royal Family lay wreaths at the Cenotaph in Whitehall in memory of soldiers and civilians who died in conflict. You can find out more about all these ceremonies on Web:

Mayor of London's Parade 

Another key London event is also held in November when the Mayor of London's Parade takes place in the historic City area - just as it has done for 798 years. Originally a way to swear loyalty to the monarch, it's now a multi-cultural ceremony with floats but the parade starts with giant wicker figures called Gog and Magog, which have pagan origins, followed by the Mayor in a magnificent State Coach. Web:

Maundy Money

London doesn't have a monopoly on pageantry of course. Each Easter, in a tradition that dates back to the 12th century, the Queen visits a British cathedral to distribute Maundy Money to pensioners, the number increasing with the monarch's age - this year (2016), 90 female and 90 male pensioners will receive specially minted silver coins.

Order of the Garter

In June, using Windsor as her base, the Queen holds an Order of the Garter service, where participants, including many members of the Royal Family and Prime Ministers, process in ornate costumes.

Royal Ascott

The Queen also appears at Royal Ascot for horse racing, as British monarchs have done since Queen Anne started the tradition in 1711. It's an easy trip to Windsor f rom London, just an hour  on  the  train - and you can  find out more about tickets for Royal Ascot at the web site

Holyrood Week, Scotland 

Holyrood Week at the end of June or beginning of July sees the Queen head north to Edinburgh, the Scottish capital (it's around four hours on the train from London). She usually holds an Order of the Thistle service at St Giles Cathedral - and you'll get the chance to see the Order of Archers, her bodyguards when in Scotland, alongside mass piped bands that parade along the Royal Mile. Web:

Author: Visit Britain


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Many of Britain's oldest ceremonies have links with royalty: Changing of the Guard, Trooping the Colour, State Opening of Parliament, Maundy Money, and many more.