Inside the Horse Guards is the Household Cavalry Museum, which gives visitors insight into the history and current activities of the Household Cavalry, which was formed in 1661 by order of King Charles II to protect the monarch. The museum displays a variety of objects such as ceremonial uniforms and musical instruments. The building is still in active use and through a glass screen you can get a glimpse of the activity in the stables.
Horse Guards Parade
The Horse Guards Parade is best known for its Changing of the Guard and Inspection by the Officer of the Guards ceremonies, which occur daily. The Horse Guards building provides the perfect background for these events, which always draw a crowd. The Changing the Guard takes place daily at 11.00 am (10.00 am on Sundays). During the ceremony, which is similar to that at Buckingham Palace and lasts about thirty minutes, mounted members of the Queen’s Life Guard relieve the sentries. The Inspection by the Officer takes place at 16:00 and ends with the horses being led back to their stables.
There are also two annual ceremonies that take place here and show Britain’s affinity for royal pomp and circumstance at its finest: the Trooping of the Colour and Beating Retreat.
The Trooping of the Colour was originally a military parade that goes back to the seventeenth century. Since 1748 it has been held to celebrate the birthday of the monarch, a tradition that continues today.
Another annual event that takes place on the parade ground is the Beating Retreat, a military ceremony that was first performed in the sixteenth century to call units back to their base. Today it is a purely symbolic ceremony featuring marching bands and even a fireworks finale.
Near the gateway stand two equestrian statues. On the left is the statue of Garnet Joseph Wolseley, unveiled in 1920. Wolseley was a field marshal who during the nineteenth century served in virtually all corners of the British Empire. To the right is the equestrian statue of Frederick Sleigh Roberts, another nomadic field marshal who enjoyed military successes in India and South Africa.
On the west side of the parade ground, just insideSt. James’s Park, is the Guards Division Memorial, which commemorates members of the guards regiments who died during the World Wars. The memorial was inaugurated in 1926. It was designed by the architect Harold Chalton Bradshaw. The five bronze figures, made by Gilbert Ledward, represent the different regiments.
Finally on the north side the Royal Naval Division Memorial commemorates the members of the Royal Naval Division who perished in the First World War. The division was created in 1914 to supplement the infantry forces of the British army with members of the naval reserve force. The division was disbanded in 1919, after the war.
The memorial was designed by Edwin Lutyens and was unveiled in 1925. In 1939 it was removed to make way for the Admiralty Citadel, a bomb-proof communications center that was built during the Second World War. In 1951 the memorial was installed inGreenwich, but it returned in 2003. The memorial consists of an obelisk set in a fountain basin that rests on a pedestal.