Westminster Abbey and Changing of the Guard
Westminster Abbey is one of the world's great churches, and for 1000 years has been the site of royal coronations. This incredible 700 year old building is a must-see for any visitor to London and a significant structure in British history. It has welcomed Kings, Queens and statesmen, royal weddings (most recently Prince William and Kate Middleton) and state funerals. You may not have been invited to the Royal Wedding, but you can feel like royalty as you enjoy a tour led by an expert local guide, who will point out the most important and fascinating aspects of this great monument.
Every British monarch since William the Conqueror in 1066 has been crowned in Westminster abbey, the most recent being Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. You'll see the Coronation Chair, commissioned in 1296 by Edward the Confessor, as well as his shrine. It is also the burial place of 17 British monarchs, the Unknown Soldier (buried in French soil and covered by a slab of Belgian marble) and many of Britain's greatest poets who lie in Poet's Corner.
After your visit to the Abbey, your guide will lead you to the Changing of the Guards. This world-famous ceremony takes place either at Buckingham Palace or at Horse Guards Parade, depending on the day. Your guide will make sure you are in a prime position to enjoy the best views at this crowded event. Enjoy commentary regarding the history and pageantry behind the ceremony - see the Queen's Foot Guards, with their red tunics and unmistakable bearskin hats, march to Buckingham Palace together with the military band or the Household Cavalry, complete with plumed silver helmets, ride in on their magnificent horses. (Please note that in heavy rain the guard's parade will not take place).
End your tour at Buckingham Palace, the residence of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. See the famous balcony where the royal family appears during major events, and hear stories of intruders and princes scaling the walls to get both inside and out!
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