British Royal ceremonies

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In 1661 the Scots Fusilier Guards became known for the first time as the Scots Guards. In 1707 they were put on the same footing as the other two Guards regiments.

In 1900 Queen Victoria, pleased with the fighting quality of the Irish regiments in the South African War, commanded the formation of the Irish Guards. In 1915 the representation nature of the brigade was rounded off by the formation of the Welsh Guards.

The Brigade of Guards serves as a personal bodyguard to the Sovereign. When the Queen is in residence at Buckingham Palace, there is a guard of four sentries. Only two are on duty when she is away from London. When the Queen is in residence at Windsor Castle, another Changing the Guard ceremony takes place in the Quadrangle there at 10 a. m. daily.

Mounting the Guard.

Mounted Guard takes part in another colorful ceremony which is held at 11 a. m. on weekdays and 10 a. m. on Sundays at the Horse Guards, a square facing Whitehall. The entrance to the Horse Guards is guarded by two mounted troopers who are at their posts daily from 10 a. m. to 4 p. m. The guard is formed by units of the Household Cavalry (Mounted Guard) the Life Guards and the Royals (the Blues and Royals). When the Queen is in London, an officer, a corporal of horse, 16 troopers and a trumpeter on a grey horse take part in the ceremony. The Royals can be identified by the red plumes on their helmets and by their blue uniforms. The Life Guards wear white plumes and red tunics.

The Ceremony of the Keys.

Every night at 9.53 p. m. the Chief Warder of the Yeomen Warders (Beefeaters) of the Tower of London lights a candle lantern and then makes his way towards the Bloody Tower. In the Archway his Escort await his arrival. The Chief Warder, carrying the keys, then moves off with his Escort to the West Gate, which he locks, while the Escort present arms. Then the Middle and Byward are locked.

The party then returns to the Bloody Tower Archway, and there they are halted by the challenge of the sentry. Halt! he commands. Who goes there? The Chief Warder answers, The keys. The sentry demands, Whose keys? Queen Elizabeths keys, replies the Chief Warder. Advance, Queen Elizabeths keys; alls well, commands the sentry.

Having received permission to proceed through the Archway, the party then form up facing the Main guard of the Tower. The order is given by the officer - in charge to Present Arms. The Chief Warder doffs his Tudor style bonnet and cries, God preserve Queen Elizabeth. Amen, answer the Guard and Escort.

At 10 p. m. the bugler sounds the Last Post (signal to return). The Chief Warder proceeds to the Queens House, where the keys are given into the custody of the Resident Governor and Major.

The Ceremony of the Keys dates back 700 years and has taken place every night during that period, even during the blitz of London in the last war. On one particular night, April 16, 1941, bomb blast disrupted the ceremony, knocking out members of the Escort and Yeomen Warders. Despite this, the duty was completed.

Only a limited number of visitors are admitted to the ceremony each night. Application to see it must be made at least forty eight hours in advance at the Constables office in the Tower. Visitors with the permission are admitted at 9.40 p. m. and leave at 10 p. m.

The Lord Mayors show.

The splendid civic event known as the Lord Mayors show is watched by many thousands of people, who throng the streets of the City of London to see this interesting procession and admire its glittering pageantry. The ceremony is the gesture of pride in the Citys history and strength as a world commercial centre. The ceremony seems still more bright and colorful because it is always held on the second Saturday in November when the city is often wrapped in mist or rain.

Its origin dates back more than six hundred years, when it began as a waterborne procession with ornate barges sailing down the river Thames. Dressed in his fur trimmed scarlet gown, a Cap Dignity, and wearing the great 5 feet long gold chain of office the newly elected Lord Mayor first watches a cavalcade of decorated floats pass by his stand at his official residence, the Mansion House. Then he steps into his gilded State Coach and takes up his position of honour at the rear of the procession. Accompanied by the Pikemen in their half armour the Lord Mayor is driven in his Gilded coach from Guildhall, past St. Pauls Cathedral, down Fleet street to the Royal Court of Justice, where he takes his oath of office before the Lord Chief Justice. The tradition of taking oath (declaration) originated in 1230 during the reign of Henry III and the final declaration was made before the Barons of the Exchequer.

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