Buckingham Palace Halts Changing of the Guard Ceremony Amid Coronavirus Crisis
The actual Changing of the Guard will continue as it always does, through rain and shine: "Some things are never affected and carry on all year"
One of London’s iconic attractions is suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The ceremonial Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace — Queen Elizabeth‘s London residence — has been postponed until further notice “in line with government advice to avoid mass gatherings.” The ceremonies at St. James’s Palace and Windsor Castle are also canceled until it is safe to resume.
While the ceremonial aspect — what London visitors witness, complete with bands playing as the Guards march in formation — won’t occur for the time being, the actual Changing of the Guard will continue as it always does, through rain and shine.
“Some things are never affected and carry on all year, regardless,” an army source tells PEOPLE.
An “Administrative Guard Mount” is when the Old Guard hands over duties to the New Guard without music or ceremony and is a familiar occurrence — when heavy rain falls or there’s a timing conflict with public events in the area. The soldiers’ operational role remains the same with sentries posted at the palaces, in their familiar Great Coats and Bearskin Caps, ever watchful and ready. In fact, the ceremonial aspect is canceled at least once a week at Windsor Castle, a source says.
On Friday, the the Grenadier Guards took over their duties as the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace without fuss or fanfare.
The Scots Guards Band are known to entertain the crowd during the Changing of the Guard ceremonies, occasionally choosing their music on what members of the family are up to. On Feb. 28, they played a medley of Jon Bon Jovi songs as the music icon met up with Prince Harry at the Abbey Road Studios for a special collaboration for the Invictus Games.
After holding audiences at Buckingham Palace earlier this week, Queen Elizabeth has moved to Windsor Castle a week ahead of schedule (she was already set to spend the Easter holiday at the royal residence) amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In a new statement released by Buckingham Palace on Thursday, the 93-year-old monarch addressed the current and upcoming challenges posed by the rising concerns of the coronavirus pandemic and asserted the strong need to work together as a country.
“As Philip and I arrive at Windsor today, we know that many individuals and families across the United Kingdom, and around the world, are entering a period of great concern and uncertainty,” the statement began.
“Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge,” the statement concluded. “You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.