Windsor Castle Hosts First Ceremonial Changing of the Guards Since COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdowns

Spectators gathered at Windsor Castle to see the guards in their signature red tunics and iconic bearskin hats

Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty

The ceremonial Changing of the Guard is back at Windsor Castle!

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the event in March 2020, soldiers from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards sported their famous red tunics and bearskin hats participated in the Changing of the Guard in front of spectators.

The ceremonies at Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace and Windsor Castle were all suspended last year as part of the effort to avoid large gatherings of the public and stop the spread of COVID-19. But while the public aspect was gone, the actual Changing of the Guard continued as it always does, through rain and shine.

"Some things are never affected and carry on all year, regardless," an army source told PEOPLE.

Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle. Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty

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, ever watchful and ready.

The Scots Guards Band are known to entertain the crowd during the Changing of the Guard ceremonies, occasionally choosing their music based on what members of the royal family are up to. (Earlier this month, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall invited the Band of the Coldstream Guards to play "Three Lions" and "Sweet Caroline" in the garden at Clarence House to celebrate England's soccer team making the Euro 2020 semi-finals.)

Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle. Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty

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Queen Elizabeth has spent most of her time at Windsor Castle since March 2020. Over the weekend, the 95-year-old monarch made an unannounced visit to her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, where the royal family traditionally spends the Christmas holiday. The horse-loving Queen was spotted driving around Wood Farm, where her late husband Prince Philip spent most of his time during his final years, with her friend and horse racing manager John Warren.

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