The Guards Museum

Explore the history and learn about the present role of the Foot Guards and Household Cavalry, charged with guarding the Sovereign and Royal Palaces.

The London Pass Access to the Guards Museum Normally £6.00 - Included with London Pass

The Guards Museum is devoted to the Foot Guards, five regiments of soldiers tasked with guarding The Queen and the Royal Palaces. 

Collecting together a wealth of information and artefacts relating to the Foot Guards past and present, the museum was once entirely private. Previously used solely as an educational tool for new Guardsmen, you can be sure that their collection is as extensive, informative and authentic as it gets. 

Explore the history and learn about the present role of the Foot Guards at The Guards Museum. This enlightening museum covers the history and present-day role of the Foot Guards who, along with the Household Cavalry, are charged with guarding the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces.

Enjoy access to The Guards Museum with The London Pass®

  • Pay nothing at the door – simply show your pass.
  • View the Changing the Guard.
  • See guard uniforms worn throughout history.
  • Discover the intriguing history of London’s military service.



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The Guards Museum history

The Guards Museum highlights

The Guards Museum facts

Don’t miss

Know before you go

Getting in

Make the most of your London Pass

How to get there



The Guards Museum history

The Foot Guards consist of five regiments who, together with two regiments of the Household Cavalry, form the Household Division: an elite set of soldiers responsible for protecting The Queen and the Royal Palaces. The regiments in the Foot Guards today are the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards and Welsh Guards. When you visit Buckingham Palace, it is traditionally soldiers from one of these five regiments you’ll see standing guard outside. Resplendent in their scarlet tunics and iconic bearskin headwear, they stand stoically outside the palace. It is these elite soldiers who take part in the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony as new troops arrive to relieve the previous regiment of their protective duties.   

The responsibility of guarding the Sovereign has fallen to the Household Troops (now the Household Division) since the reign of Henry VII (1485 - 1509). Of the regiments that make up the Foot Guards today, the Grenadier, Coldstream and Scots Guards can trace their history back to the middle of the 17th Century. The Irish and Welsh Guards were both formed in April 1900. 

Today, the Foot Guards perform two main roles within the British Army. Primarily, they are highly skilled and rigorously trained infantry soldiers who protect the Sovereign and take part in operational duties across the world. Secondly, they perform ceremonial duties at State and Royal events, such as Changing the Guard.  

It is this second function for which they are most known, and The Guards Museum covers this extensively, with a wealth of information on their public-facing role, archive photographs and footage, and even the chance to try on an iconic bearskin cap, making a very serious face as you do so. But their primary function is given dual precedence at The Guards Museum, with artefacts relating to the conflicts the Foot Guards have taken part in alongside testimony highlighting the important global role they play during times of war and times of peace.    

The Guards Museum, located a mere 500 metres from Buckingham Palace, was once a private museum, used solely by new recruits for educational purposes. Opening to the public in 1988, the museum continues to devote itself to the history, legacy and present-day importance of the Foot Guards, while now seeking to educate and entertain a wider audience with the story of these historic, iconic and storied regiments. 

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The Guards Museum highlights

  • Discover the history and present-day duties of the five regiments who make up the Foot Guards.

  • See uniforms worn throughout history, starting with some dating back to the English Civil War. 

  • Experience the Changing the Guard.

  • Learn about the Royal Family’s long association with the UK’s military.

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The Guards Museum facts 
 

  • You can tell the Foot Guards’s regiments apart by looking at three main things: the spacing of their buttons; the plume, or lack thereof, on their bearskin caps; and the decorations adorning their collar badges, shoulder badges and belt buckles. Learn to tell them apart during your trip to The Guards Museum.

  • Guardsmen stood in position in front of Buckingham Palace typically spend two hours on duty, four hours off. During this time, they aren’t allowed to smile at passersby and must remain strictly professional.

  • The bearskin caps worn by Foot Guards are traditionally made from Canadian bear fur. They can be up to 45cm tall and weigh around 0.7kg.

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Don’t miss

Changing the Guard

The iconic ceremony where the New Guard replace the Old Guard, this typically British display of royal and military pageantry takes place throughout the year in front of Buckingham Palace, just 300 yards from The Guard Museum. 

The Changing the Guard ceremony typically takes place in front of Buckingham Palace from around 10.45 and last 45 minutes. Get there early to grab a good view of proceedings. 

However, this is not a daily event and the schedule can change with little warning. Check the Household Division official website for details and upcoming events. 

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Know before you go

  • The attraction is wheelchair accessible, with a lift leading to the main floor of the museum. Just one small section of the museum is inaccessible for wheelchair users. For more accessibility queries, contact The Guards Museum directly on 02074 143428.

  • There are no public toilet facilities available at The Guards Museum. The closest facilities are in St James’s Park, a four-minute walk away. Please ask a member of staff or call 02074 143428 for more details.

  • The museum is closed on certain ceremonial days, please call to avoid disappointment or visit the official attraction website.

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Getting in

Show your London Pass© at the door for entry.

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Make the most of your London Pass®

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How to get there

Tube
- St. James’s Park - District and Circle lines (5-minute walk away)
- Green Park - Piccadilly, Jubilee and Victoria lines (13-minute walk)

Train
- Victoria - 13-minute walk away
- Waterloo - 25-minute walk

For more things to do in London, visit the London Pass® blog.

 

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Getting to The Guards Museum

Getting to The Guards Museum

  • The Guards Museum Wellington Barracks Birdcage Walk London SW1

Opening Times

Monday 10.00 - 16.00
Tuesday 10.00 - 16.00
Wednesday 10.00 - 16.00
Thursday 10.00 - 16.00
Friday 10.00 - 16.00
Saturday 10.00 - 16.00
Sunday 10.00 - 16.00
Last Admission: 15.30

Closed:

Closed on certain ceremonial days – please call or see our website to avoid disappointment.

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