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The Queen's Foot Guards

Five regiments of the British Army form the Queen's Foot Guards
They are:

  • The Grenadier Guards
  • The Coldstream Guards
  • The Scots Guards
  • The Irish Guards
  • The Welsh Guards
Foot guard

The Queen's Guard - Foot Guards

The Queen's Guard are responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace and St. James's Palace in London. They usually consist of Foot Guards (guards on foot) wearing full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins (hats).

Buckingham Palace

When The Queen is in residence, there are four Foot Guards at the front of the building; when she is away there are two.

The Queen's Guard changes in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11.30 am, and lasts about 45 minutes. There is no Guard Mounting in very wet weather. During the autumn and winter, Guard Mounting takes place on alternate days, but it is held daily during spring and summer.

Buckingham Palace is immediately adjacent to St James's Park and The Green Park.

Please note that in August you might not see the soldiers wearing the red uniforms as often other regiments guard the Queen during this month. Also during wet or cold weather the guards wear grey coats

St James's Palace

When Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace in 1837, the Queen's Guard remained at St James's Palace, with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace, as it still does today.

The Queen's Guard changes at St James's Palace at 11:00am prior to marching to Buckingham Palace.

The Foot Guard Uniform

From a distance the full dress uniforms worn by the men of the five Regiments of Foot Guards look identical. All the Officers and Guardsmen wear

  • the black bearskin cap
  • the scarlet tunic has a dark blue collar, shoulder strips pipped in white, and cuffs of dark blue and white
  • the dark blue trousers have a red stripe down the seam of each leg
  • a white leather buff belt

How to spot the different regiments

There are various other methods of telling apart the five different regiments - the colour of the plume and what side it is worn on the bearskin (hat), the collar badge and the shoulder badge.

Regiment Plume Plume colour Button spacing Collar badge Shoulder badge
Grenadier Guards
Left
White
Singly
Grenade
Royal Cypher
Coldstream Guards
Right
Scarlet
Pairs
Garter Star
Rose
Scots Guards
None
N/A
Threes
Thistle Star
Thistle
Irish Guards
Right
Blue
Fours
Shamrock
St Patrick Star
Welsh Guards
Left
White-Green-White
Fives
Leek
Leek

bearskin (a busby)The buttons on all the guards' uniforms are gold and bear The Queen's insignia.

The Bearskins

The 18-inch-tall (45.7cm) bearskins worn by the Foot Guards are made of real bearskin from Canadian brown bears and weigh 1.5lbs. The bearskins were first worn by British soldiers in 1815, following the defeat of Napoleon's French Imperial Guards at the battle of Waterloo. The French grenadiers wore bearskins to appear taller and more intimidating, and Britain adopted the towering hats for soldiers in ceremonial duties and guarding royal residencies as a symbol of its victory.

For many years the Ministry of Defence and the British Army have tried to find a synthetic alternative to the fur. As yet, no acceptable alternative to the fur has been found.

Crown Why does the Queen have so many guards?

The Queen is a very important person. Most of the guards are there for ceremonial purposes.

Buckingham Palace also contains its own police station, and the Royal Family have their own protection officers at all times.

Crown How many guards are there for Buckingham Palace?
How many are on duty at one time?

When The Queen is in residence, there are four Foot Guards at the front of the building; when she is away there are two. Altogether the Guard consists of three officers and 36 soldiers.

Crown What are the guards that stand in front of the castle wearing red coats and those large black fur hats? Are they called sentries or just guards?

They are called the Queen's Guard. They consists of Foot Guards in full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins (hats).

Crown How come the Queen's Guards do not move?

Traditionally the Queen's Guards are not allowed to move. Typically, a Guardsman spends two hours on duty and four off. He is not expected to stand still for any more than ten minutes at a time. Every so often, he will march up and down in front of his sentry box, rather like a policeman "walking the beat".

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites projectbritain.com and primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks