Coming from an American standpoint there has always been the stereotype that
British people come with a little of pomp and fanfare, not to mention bad dental health.
However, while some ludicrous stereotypes perpetuate themselves in Hollywood movies
by casting the villain as a Englishman or having girls fall head over heels at the mention of a
word said in a British accent, Great Britain does seem to embrace the tradition and history
that comes with its empirical history.
My parents had actually visited Great Britain many years ago (I won’t say just how
many, in fear in giving away any ages), but it had been my mom’s wish to finally see the
Changing of the Guards take place at Buckingham Palace. Evidently, it wasn’t a very unique
wish since we were joined that morning by hundreds of people ranging from other tourists
to school groups. Even our early wake up call, however, wasn’t early enough to get to the
front gates of the palace, so our tour guide strategically had us follow the procession of
guards all the way to the outer gates of the palace. Not every changing of the guards has
musical accompaniment, but sometimes the music can be fitted to celebrate a certain
anniversary or event. The second time my mom and my brother chose to watch the
changing of the guards while my dad and I visited the museums the band played a musical
tribute to Michael Jackson.
The iconic scenes of stone-faced guards at Buckingham Palace and other buildings
have largely just become scenes in movies. After one too many instances of tourists and
guards getting too close for comfort, numerous chain fences now prevent people from
getting anywhere near the guards.
The Guardsmen consist of five different regiments from the British Army consisting
of soldiers from the Scots Guard, the Irish Guard, the Welsh Guard, the Grenadier Guard,
and the Coldstream Guard. Some foreign guards have been permitted to guard the palace as
an act of foreign diplomacy.
While many in the U.S. continue to believe they have much more fun without the
elaborate ceremonies, I’m sure that many kept quiet as they watched the Royal Wedding or
other British spectacles. As for myself, I didn’t worry too much about that because at the
end of the day these events are as much for tradition as they are to entertain people. After
all, who can deny smiling when the band plays the James Bond theme song or awe at the
silence as the guards change positions with only the sounds of stomping feet echoing?