11:30. We just have to make it by 11:30.
We rushed from the half priced ticket booth at Picadilly Circus (cheap seats to Wicked secured for the evening show!) toward Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard parade and ceremony. We started walking just before 11:00 and seemed like we would make it just in time. Suddenly, and surprisingly without warning, nearly fifty fuzzy hatted guards appeared immediately in front of us with instruments playing a miltary march. Following these redcoats were another two dozen guards with automatic rifles marching closely in time.
We walked directly behind the parade for the next quarter mile or so all the way to the palace. Needless to say, the streets were packed with people. By the time we reached the square in front of the palace, there were hundreds of people with cameras out hoping to get a glance of the changing of the guard. While we got a great view of the parade, we couldn’t see that much at the gate. So, I threw Bryce up on my shoulders and Denali scrambled on top of a fence to get a better view.
“Dad, what’s happening? What are they doing?” asked an obviously confused and slightly bored Bryce who couldn’t quite get his head around the notion of royalty, let alone the pomp and circumstance that surrounds said nobility in the UK.
“Well, Bryce, at 11:30 everyday, they change the guards in front of the palace to make sure the Queen is safe.”
“That’s what we’re watching?”
“Sort of…you see, after the parade, the guards all climb the side of the palace walls like Spiderman before putting on their red capes and mask that all guardsmen are required to wear.”
“Yep,” I said as the Canadian gentleman next to me looked at me in disgust.
“Then what happens?”
“Well,” I proceeded to tell my kids, “you know that big parade we just walked behind? After they get to the palace, they all take a vote on who marched the best. Tha guard becomes the new ‘king-of-London-for-the-day.’ And then they take another, much sadder vote, on who marched the worst. That guard is ceremoniously stripped of his red coat and told he is no longer welcome in England. They immediately send him to Wales on a goat with his cape as a saddle. That’s where we get the term ‘scapegoat.’ Welsh people always put an ‘s’ before any word beginning with ‘c.’ ”
“Daddy, that doesn’t sound right…”
“Oh, but you’re missing the best part! After the vote, which must have just happened minutes ago, the queen comes out to grace us with her presence.”
“We’re going to see the queen?!”
“And how! The thing is, you’ll have to look up on top of the palace to see her. Each day, after the guard votes, she comes out of a window on the wroof. If she sees her shadow, she goes right back inside, meaning it will rain for the next 40 days and 40 nights…”
“…but if she DOESN’T see her shadow, then she reaches back into the window and carries her two great-grand children to the top of the flagpole on the place where she cries out in her high-pitched soprano sing-songy voice, ‘My People!! Behold, your future monarchs!!!’ At that point, she grabs the Union Jack, that’s the flag, with her teeth and parachutes down to the ground in front of the palace.”
At this point, the Canadian man and his elderly father realize I’m not entirely serious and nods over at Bryce, saying, “I love that part.”
“Can we see her do that today, Daddy?”
“I wish, Bryce, but it looks like we can’t see from here. Want to go see dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum instead?”
“Oh boy! Dinosaurs!”
Great Britain rules.