Did you know that you can see the Changing of the Guard far more close up than at Buckingham Palace? Head to Windsor Castle where you can watch the lead up to the ceremony for free outside the castle or the entire event inside the majestic structure. If you want to watch for free, the guards parade up Sheet St., march up High St., and file into the castle in approximately 10 minutes. Standing on the elevated steps of the Guildhall will give you a great vantage point.
However, I highly recommend touring the castle and watching the ceremony there. Purchase a ticket to get inside the walls of the Queen’s sprawling home, and then you’ll be able to watch the entire, approximately 30 minutes-long Changing of the Guard Ceremony. It usually takes place in the Lower Ward outside of the guardroom. The guards will enter the castle through the Henry VIII Gate. If you want to find the absolutely best spot, ask a uniformed warden to give you a suggestion. Alternatively, try standing by the railings outside St. George’s Chapel. When I was there several years ago, I couldn’t believe how close the guards were! It was much more thrilling than watching the ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
However, be aware that if the Queen is in residence (check to see if the Royal Standard is flying above the Round Tower), the ceremony will take place on the lawn of the Quadrangle. In that case, the guard will enter through St. George’s Gate and march all the way up Castle Hill. I recommend claiming a spot near the railings at Engine Court.
Wherever you choose to watch the ceremony, it’s extremely important to note that the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle is weather dependent and only occurs on certain days that change each month. Before you go, check the schedule at www.householddivision.org.uk. In addition, if you want to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony inside the castle, arrive no later than 10:00AM to get through security and find a good spot from which to watch. You’ll have an amazing view no matter where you’re standing and will create a travel experience that you won’t soon forget!