The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle has been cancelled Wednesday, so that police and soldiers can be deployed elsewhere during the crisis that has followed the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on Monday.
A Ministry of Defense spokesman confirmed to PEOPLE that the military ceremony is not happening. Thousands of tourists flock to the palace to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony every week. The privilege of guarding the monarch traditionally belongs to the Household Troops, better known as “the Guards,” who have carried out this duty since 1660.
During the ceremony, also known as “Guard Mounting,” one regiment takes over from another. The New Guard, who during the course of the ceremony become The Queen’s Guard, march to Buckingham Palace from Wellington Barracks. They are in charge of looking after the Queen’s safety while she is residing in her royal residency.
The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes between 10.15-11.45 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from January to March, weather permitting. It typically takes place daily at 11:30 a.m. from April until the end of July.
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Officials have also announced the closure of the Palace of Westminster, where the Houses of Parliament are situated and marked by the famous clock and bell of Big Ben. A statement read, “In light of the tragic events in Manchester and the Prime Minister’s announcement raising the national security threat level to critical, the police have advised that the Palace of Westminster should be closed to non-passholders today, Wednesday 24 May.
“As a consequence all tours, events and banqueting will be cancelled with immediate effect. This arrangement will remain in place until the advice changes.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday that the country’s terror threat level was rising from “severe” to “critical.”
The move came less than 24 hours after a suicide bombing outside Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande performance killed 22 people and hospitalized 59 others, including multiple children and teenagers.
Following her announcement, the military was also deployed to help police. The Metropolitan Police, based at Scotland Yard, is taking the lead and said in a statement, “The public will see more armed officers, working alongside their neighborhood and specialist colleagues on proactive operations and targeted patrols, both on foot and in vehicles.
“As part of the pre-planned and tested deployment under Operation Temperer the military will be working under the MPS command structure to provide static armed guarding at key locations. This will include Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Embassies and the Palace of Westminster. This will free up armed officers to carry out patrols.”
On Wednesday, the Queen and husband Prince Philip attended a service to mark the 100th anniversary of the Order of the British Empire. Almost 2,000 holders of the Order’s awards, from Knights and Dames to those who have received a CBE, OBE or MBE, attended the service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
King George V established the Order in 1917 to reward outstanding contributions during WWI. Today, it recognizes the work of people from all walks of life.