This film is part of Free

England: Changing Guard at Horse Guards and St. James's Palace

Police officers hold back curious crowds as George V's infantrymen go about their day-to-day.

1916 1 mins Silent


In the year of the Battle of the Somme, were Britons more concerned with military security? This film opens with the reassuring sight of cavalrymen marching into Horse Guards Parade. But it's the arrival of the infantry that provides the grandest spectacle. The Drum Corps escorts the King's Guard into the forecourt of St James's Palace, to the fascination of a huge horde of Londoners.

The King's Guard - as it would have been known at the time of a male monarch - dates back to the 17th century. But with these buildings and traditions still intact, has anything really changed since this footage was filmed in 1916? The ritual changing of the guard might have become a must-see for Westminster's tourists, but it does retain a function too. The patrolmen seen here were trained soldiers with loaded guns - just as their successors are today.