Westminster Abbey Visit and Changing of the Guard
Tour Participation Requirements
It's not a normal abbey or a cathedral, but rather a "Royal Peculiar," a church answerable only to the sovereign. And even before the cornerstone of the current Westminster Abbey was laid in 1245, this site had become the spot for blockbuster royal events, beginning with William the Conqueror's coronation in 1066. Most recently, it hosted William and Kate's 2011 nuptials in 2011; the centuries in between have been a parade of history-making moments.
Inside, this gleaming showplace practically emits its own light. Perhaps it's all that treasure – paintings, stained glass, bronzes, tapestries, and artifacts that include the spectacular gilded Coronation Chair commissioned in 1296 by Edward the Confessor. Or the echoes of the 17 British monarchs and another 1,300 or so of Britain's most revered personages buried and memorialized here.
Given its sheer size and stature within history, a visit inside this building is a humbling experience. And one guaranteed to take your breath away.
So, in a completely different way, is that thrilling daily tribute to classic British pomp and circumstance known as the Changing of the Guard. This intricately choreographed ceremony, performed either at Buckingham Palace or Horse Guards Parade (depending on the day), is the oldest – and perhaps quirkiest – palace tradition of all.
The Queen's Guards in their snappy red tunics and bearskin hats, along with Her dashing Household Cavalry in their silver plumed helmets astride magnificent steeds, together execute a ballet of elaborate processionals, inspections, and flag-flying maneuvers with the royal band providing a sprightly soundtrack to it all.
This spectacle always attracts a sea of spectators, so it's important to be in the right place at the right time to get the best view. No worries; your seasoned guide knows every inch of the route.
They also know some intriguing stories about Buckingham Palace itself – enough to make a queen blush. But not noticeably, of course.
Fire in the nave
Westminster Abbey was a sitting duck for German bombers during World War II, so most of its movable treasures were evacuated to country homes for safekeeping. Fragile stained glass windows were boarded over, though many were still blown out. On one night in 1941, clusters of incendiary bombs burned through a section of the roof, causing molten lead to cascade onto the floor below, scorching the pulpit and choir stalls. Alert firewatchers helped prevent the whole place from going up in flames.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.