Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the Vault at Hard Rock Cafe London and the View from St Paul’s Cathedral, London, United Kingdom

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Our fourth day in London had us visiting the free Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London, viewing the monuments of Green Park, a tour of the Vault at the Hard Rock Cafe in London, and a trip over to St Paul’s Cathedral. It was a pretty easy going today with all the discoveries that London has to offer as a city.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity City Visit: Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the Guitars at the Hard Rock Cafe and the View from St Paul’s Cathedral London, United Kingdom.

Today’s adventures would lead us to many famous landmarks; Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard and St Paul’s Cathedral. The Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guard doesn’t take place every day and we checked the schedule in order to find a day with good weather to align with our time in this wonderful city.

The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace:

Departing from the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington, we took the Underground Earls Court to Green Park. We had a short walk through the park to Buckingham Palace.

Where to Watch the Changing of the Guard:

There are many debates and discussions on where to position yourself to watch the changing of the guard. I had previously seen the changing of the guard right up against the Palace fence. The advantages of being up close are that you get the closest view of everything, but unless you arrive very early, you’re likely looking through several people in addition to looking through the gates of the palace fence.

This time, we decided to watch the changing of the guard from the Victoria Monument which was actually a nice place to watch thanks to it’s elevated location. The advantages are that you can arrive a little bit later, have a great choice of vantage locations and can see more of the parade formations.

Unfortunately, while viewing from the Victoria Monument, we couldn’t hear much of the drill commands but were able to get a good vantage point of the whole area. This included seeing the parade marching in, the actual changing of the guard ceremony, and the parade being moved off the palace grounds.

The march off… and color guard…

The Changing of the Guard is probably one of the most impressive free tourist attractions in London. It’s a great way to remember and experience British pageantry.

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Visiting the Canada Gate:

After the Changing of the Guard, we headed across the street over to the Canada Gate. The Canada Gate was presented to London by Canada as a memorial for Queen Victoria in 1901.

From the Canada Gate, we walked through the park past the pilot’s memorial.

Visiting the Vault at the Hard Rock Café:

We eventually made it over to The Hard Rock Café. It’s the inaugural location for this worldwide brand. The main attraction here, aside from souvenir T Shirts, is a free tour of the Vault. This was a must see for WT73Jr; the opportunity to see stuff from all the great British rock legends.

The Vault, is actually in an old bank Vault. The Vault offers a free tour of its rock memorabilia every twenty minutes. The items included John Lennon’s jackets, and Jimmy Hendrix’ guitars.

Not to mention a close look at Jimmy’ Page’s guitars from Led Zeppelin.

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Peeking into Harrod’s Department Store:

After The Hard Rock Café, we had a down past Hyde Park Corner through Piccadilly over to Harrods. We had a quick look at the famous Egyptian Staircase inside Harrods. The Princess Diana candlelight memorial from the basement is long gone, as is the Al Fayed family that previously owned this retail giant. WT73Jr was less than impressed with the whole Harrod’s concept, and didn’t quite understand why people would want to shop in a luxury store when they could easily “order things online”.

The London Underground Central Line:

From there, we hopped the old Underground from Knightsbridge to Holborn then a change on the Central line over St Pauls. The Underground has so much personality to it, it’s an interesting if not a dark place to travel in.

Visiting St Paul’s Cathedral:

St Paul’s Cathedral is a most impressive and regal building. It’s one of my favourite church’s in London and a must see attraction for those into London’s churches.

The main hall of St Paul’s cathedral is most impressive and has one of the highest ceilings among many of the European churches that I have visited. Most impressive are the mosaic’s on the roof of the structure that have incredible attention to detail.

We took a climb up to the roof top spire. Unfortunately, the Whispering Gallery is semi permanently closed as a result of several “accidental” deaths down to the floor of the cathedral. The view at the top St Paul’s was absolutely terrific and among the best in London. Several landmarks could be spotted, including Tate Modern museum, the Monument,

The sign of a teenager that’s not happy with heights…
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Walking the Millennium Bridge:

With that look of teenage horror, we got out of St Paul’s and headed over to Tate Modern museum. From St Paul’s, we walked over the Millennium Bridge.

We took a spirited but detailed tour through the Tate Modern Gallery. It was an interesting collection of Modern Art, although I wasn’t all too blown away by the exhibits. I was happy to have been through and made a mental note for myself for a future visit.

After that it was back to the Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington, another day concluded.


If you’ve visited the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, did you find it a great representation of British Pageantry ?

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