Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Other Changing of the Guards

The military band leads the way
With the mercury rising north of 30ºC (86ºF) on our visit to London, we were completely unmotivated to join the pre-royal-birth masses in front of Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards. I can't imagine how those wool clad guardians of the Queen make it even ten minutes in the oppressive heat, much less marching their way down the Mall. We could barely make it two blocks in our shorts and tees, and neither of the little C&Gs were wearing a big, black, fuzzy bearskin hat.

London may get all the glory when it comes to putting on a daily royal show, but Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm also have palaces (and royalty) that need guarding. The Royal Guards of Stockholm are the most entertaining of the three and a definite must-see while visiting Scandinavia. Every day at 12:15 (1:15 on Sundays and holidays) the Royal Guards march from the Army Museum to the courtyard of the Royal Palace. The accompanying military band performs during the summer months, and the mounted Royal Guards occasionally make an appearance.

The outgoing guards ready for a nap
The blue rope inside the palace courtyard marks the public viewing area and makes an excellent place for your little travelers to grab a spot. The best seats are just outside the information and ticket office. The little C&Gs sat down on the cobblestones and pulled out their Papo action figures (knights on horseback) and started their own Scandinavian battle while they waited. You'll hear the loud footsteps and the music echoing off the old stone buildings long before you see the blue and yellow uniformed band appear.

All that pomp and pageantry is very impressive, and while the royal family no longer lives at the royal palace, you'd never know it from the serious looks on the young mens faces marching by. The boys absolutely loved the guards pointy silver hats and they got a great view from our vantage point in the courtyard. After the outgoing guards switch places with the incoming guards (lots of shouting and Monty Python style walking) the band will put on a very entertaining show. They perform for thirty minutes, which was about fifteen minutes longer than the little C&Gs attention span.

When it all comes to an end, head inside the royal palace courtyard for a much needed snack. The outdoor cart offers up salads, pastries, and beverages. We were surprised to find giant slices of watermelon for sale (watermelon and Sweden, not two things I'd usually put together), and with the greatest possibility for messiness of course that's what the boys chose. I had a giggle at the water station on the back of the cart. It's tap water, straight from the taps of the old royal palace, available for free in giant jugs labeled "Royal Tap Water". The little C&Gs were feeling very royal after having a jug poured over their sticky watermelon covered fingers.

Check the website of the Swedish Armed Forces for more info and schedules of the Royal Guards. I'll bet their British counterparts would pay a royal sum to switch places for the summer months.

No comments:

Post a Comment