While for most people, getting the recommended products solves pretty much any problem out there, there are those among us who, for hours every day, cannot do as they wish and they have to behave and look in a certain way.
We’re talking, of course, about the Buckingham Palace Guards who have to uphold a tradition that dates back to the 1600s. Their mistery and intrigue have fascinated people around the world and they’re a no short source of wonder for Londoners as well. The Queen’s Guards have been implemented somewhere in 1660 and have to behave like the 17th century every day.
The origin of the Change of the Guard
According to popular sources, this ceremony originated 520 years ago when the elite infantry units had to perform it at the Palace of Whitehall but it was then eventually relocated to St James’s Palace. Even though Queen Victoria moved to Buckingham Palace back in 1837, the ceremony was also continued at St James’s.
These days, we are only lucky enough to see it performed at Buckingham Palace. When the Queen is actually in the residence, you will see the Royal Standard Flag lifted high above the building and more guards will be involved in it.
Why the bearskin hat?
Get this: the original reason for making the Queen’s Guard wear an actual bearskin hat was to make them look taller and more intimidating to the enemy. The hats started out made from real bear fur and even though, at some point, the monarchs tried switching to synthetic, the trend just wouldn’t stick around so everybody went back to the real thing.
Not only that, but those hats are quite heat-prone and heavy. It is said that their weight can range anywhere from four and a half to nine pounds. Imagine having to stand guard when it also rains and the hat gets heavier.
Why the black pants?
The black pants have a quite embarrassing story to tell when it comes to the Queen’s Guard. It is true that these people work for two hours and are then off for four but during those two hours, they cannot be excused from their post no matter what the circumstances are.
For this reason, they are given black pants just in case an unforeseen event occurs and they cannot make it to the bathroom in time. By using a dark color and manufacturing them with thick wool, unexpected accidents can be kept under wraps easier.
You can’t just faint
The rules of this unit are so strict that should something happen and the poor soul pass out due to heat or tiredness, the guard still has a protocol to follow. If a member of the Guard faints, he must ensure he passes out while still remaining at attention, so this is why you are able to find those imagines with them lying face down somewhere.
You just can’t move
While on duty, Queen’s Guards are not supposed to move or respond to anything that the tourists may throw at them. However, the rules indicate that after being still for at least 10 minutes, they can march up and down the street in order to stretch their legs and avoid passing out.
Some guards have also talked about how the large boots are made to allow some room for the toes to wiggle around, as this is a known way to prevent standing people from passing out.
You just can’t smile
Have you sometimes wondered why you will never see these people smile? According to the rule book, one of the main reasons may be financial punishments if this is ever the case. If a superior will see a guard smiling or (God forbid!) laughing, the poor fellow may be fined an amount ranging from a few days to up to a week’s pay.
Since the total for that can prove to be somewhere in the $355 range, that’s no easy punishment for cracking a smile.
Never touch a guard
As London aficionados know by now, one should never touch a member of the Queen’s Guard. If this is the case, they are actually allowed to shout warnings at you to make you go away. If people start acting aggressively, the soldiers can even present their bayonets to them.