The setting for many military ceremonies throughout the year, the Horse Guards Parade is located at the heart of Whitehall. Once the traditional entrance to the Royal Palaces and is still guarded by mounted sentries from the Queen’s Household Cavalry.Formally the site of the Palace of Whitehall’s tiltyard where tournaments, such as jousting, were held during the reign of Henry VIII. It was also once the Headquarters of the British Army. The Duke of Wellington was based here when he was Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. For much of the late 20th century, the Horse Guards Parade was used as a car park for senior civil servant. This was known as the “Great Perk” and allowed 500 citizens this privilege. However, the cark park was removed in 1996 and the Horse Guards Parade was cleared in order to be resurfaced.
The changing of the guard takes place every morning at 11am on Monday to Saturday and 10am on Sundays. The Guard Changing ceremony takes 30 minutes and consists of twelve mounted troops in traditional uniform arriving from barracks at Hyde Park. The Old Guard forms up on the north side of and the New Guard forms up on the south side. There are a number of military monuments the surround the parade ground such as Statues of Field Marshals Kitchener, Roberts, and Wolseley and the Cadiz Memorial of the French Mortar mounted on a brass monster which symbolizes the lifting of the siege of Cadiz in Spain. Also there is The Royal Naval Division Memorial which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1925, it was returned to its original site in Horse Guards Parade and was rededicated on “Beaucourt Day 2003.”Erected to commemorate the First Battle of Ypres, the Guards Memorial which was designed by sculptor Gilbert Ledward in 1923. Another item is 1524 Turkish cannon made by Murad son of Abdullah, chief gunner who was captured in Egypt. One very interesting oddity on property is the black background to the number 2 of the double sided clock which overlooks the Parade Ground. It is thought to commemorate the time the last absolute monarch of England, Charles I, was beheaded at the Banqueting House.
Annual ceremonies take place here such as Trooping the Colour which commemorates the monarch’s official birthday and Beating Retreat. The Parade also hosted the beach volleyball at the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London. Sainsbury Anniversary Games 2014 used the parade as a temporary arena for their anniversary games.
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