Can the Queen’s Guard Really Not React to People While on Duty?

Can the Queen’s Guard Really Not React to People While on Duty?

“The Queen’s Guard” comprise of various
soldiers tasked with guarding the residences of the Queen and, by extension, the Queen
herself. Consisting of soldiers (mostly) hand picked
from five elite regiments within the British military, the Queen’s Guard are internationally
renowned for their stoic dedication to duty. However, contrary to popular belief, these
soldiers are permitted to move (and do so regularly, even when just on guard duty and
not on parade) and in certain circumstances do react to hecklers or the like. That said, while on duty outside one of the
Queen’s residences, these sentries are trained to remain unflinching in the face of everything
from extreme weather to screaming abuse a few inches from their faces. In fact, if they end up having to relieve
themselves during their two hour shifts (generally two hours on, four hours off), they remain
just as outwardly unflappable, instructed to simply perform their necessaries in their
thick woolen trousers which, according to Guardsman Shaun Marsden, “are sufficiently
dark to cover their embarrassment”. (While this might seem a short span of time
to ever have this occur, it should be noted that on hot summer days, Guardsmen are instructed
to drink very large amounts of water before going on duty to attempt to prevent heatstroke
and dehydration.) But despite these bastions of British stoicism’s
reputations, they do move regularly- at least every 10 minutes they will turn and patrol
their post, which usually involves taking about 10-20 paces one way and then back before
once again resuming their vigil. Occasionally a guard may also perform such
a march to approach an individual within their vicinity who is being a particular nuisance
or the like, but the more common purpose of these little jaunts is usually just to get
the blood flowing again to keep it from pooling too much in their legs, potentially causing
the soldier to faint. Speaking of fainting, if a soldier begins
to feel themselves succumbing to such, they are taught to “faint to attention”. This basically means that they must faint
while maintaining their standing at attention pose. In practice when achieved, this tends to result
in them falling rigidly over like a toy soldier, which is why pictures of guardsman laying
face down, rather than more or less crumpled, on the ground abound on the web. Fellow Queen’s Guard members around said
individual are forbidden from deviating from their duty if this occurs and will in fact
march straight over their fallen comrade if necessary. (Medical personal will, of course, be sent
out to attend to the individual when this is observed.) While not a common occurrence, this does happen
every now and then. For instance, during the 2017 Trooping the
Colour, in which temperatures sat around 27°C (80°F), five of the Queen’s Guard, baking
in their many layered, thick uniforms and bearskin hats, passed out. Beyond fainting and marching, the guards also
may move about in a variety of other ways- they are guards after all. However, given that their roll has largely
been reduced to a symbolic one, with local law enforcement generally taking care of any
problems that arise around the Queen’s residences, today one of these elite soldiers breaking
their normal stoic stance is generally simply due to tourists, rather than a real threat
or need for them to perform as actual guards. That said, members of the Queen’s Guard
will rarely openly react to tourists taking photos or telling them jokes to try and make
them laugh and are, in fact, specifically instructed to ignore stuff like this. However, if a particular group of tourists
is being especially annoying, the guard may make their best effort to ruin a picture or
the like, for instance by suddenly turning and marching right when the tourists are all
posing for a photograph with the guard. In one instance we came across, a guardsman
noted he’d just continuing to march while such tourists are around, passive aggressively
getting them back for their disrespect- somewhat akin to the Seinfeld Soup Nazi, “No picture
for you!” Speaking of marching, should you get in the
way of a member of the Queen’s Guard who is doing this, you’ll likely find yourself
having said soldier shout something to the effect of “Make way for the Queen’s Guard!” Failure to move out of their way will result
in you being knocked over, as one hapless man found out in 2015. (Although to be fair to said man, no one in
the Guard chose to yell “Make way!” until after they ran into him, and he clearly was
oblivious to their presence before the collision, so wasn’t trying to disrespect them.) One guardsman also noted that, while exceptionally
rare, occasionally a tourist will tell a particularly good joke which may elicit a smile or even
laughter from him, though if a soldier is caught in such a slip in composure, they get
docked pay (a few days to a week’s worth depending on the severity of infraction) and
may endure other punishments, including in extreme cases being kicked off the guard. Thus, while trying to get the guard to lose
their composure may seem all fun and games to tourists, if one is successful and the
guard’s superiors find out, that person may have just screwed with the livelihood
of said soldier, who in the first place aren’t exactly getting rich as a member of the Guard. (They are generally paid somewhere between
about £1200-£2000 per month, which is about $1,500-$2600.) As for sanctioned interactions with people,
should the guard deem someone enough of a nuisance (though not necessarily a real threat,
with in that case guards free to react however they see fit to deal with the situation),
they are instructed to do the following: Come to attention sharply, involving a very
loud stamp, which is all the more startling when said soldier was otherwise motionless
before. Shouting sharp instructions at the individual
being a nuisance. This might be something like “Step back
from the Queen’s Guard!” with the guards required to keep their warnings and ultimatums
brief and to the point. Marching towards the individual. Pointing the bayoneted rifle directly at the
person being a nuisance. If all else fails, doing whatever is necessary
to detain the person causing the disturbance or pressing a button in the sentry box to
alert police to come deal with the situation. One potential almost surefire way of eliciting
such a strong reaction is to touch the guard or otherwise exhibit extremely disrespectful
behavior, such as marching along beside the soldier in a mocking fashion while insulting
the guard verbally. And if you’re wondering whether said rifles
that may be pointed at your face in such a scenario are loaded are not, they are usually
not. (Though one imagines having a sharpened bayonet
wielded by a highly trained soldier shoved in your face is intimidating enough, even
if you know the gun it’s attached to is not loaded.) Occasionally the Guard do carry ammunition
with them though, particularly when there’s knowledge of a credible threat to the safety
of the Queen or nation or otherwise when a heightened state of security is ordered. In these cases, if necessary, the soldier
can load the rifle in a blink by simply ejecting the empty magazine and popping in a full one. And, yes, as actual guards- even if their
duties today are mostly ceremonial in practice- said individuals are authorised to use deadly
force when appropriate, most notably if they feel their own lives, members of the royal
family, or the general public near their guard post are endangered. As an idea of just what the Queen’s Guard
have long had to deal with from people, former guardsman Ronald Tibbets notes, “Some march
up and down with us and others pull our bearskins. Some people put fag ends down the rifle butts. Some stick oranges on the end of the bayonet…” It’s also noted that having banana peels
or other such items placed along a soldier’s marching route is occasionally a thing. People also sometimes attempt to untie the
guard’s shoelaces. One member of the Guard even noted it wasn’t
uncommon for people to “stick pins in you” to try to make guardsmen flinch. It’s not all bad, though, and guardsmen
have noted that some people are quite respectful when approaching for photographs and the like. Further, one guardsman noted in an interview
there was a general “perk” of frequently having women flash guards to get a reaction
and also sometimes having phone numbers and addresses slipped into their pockets by those
women no doubt wanting to see whether the ability to stand at attention for hours at
a time translates to the bedroom. Today, many problems the Queen’s Guard have
long had with the general public has been mitigated somewhat. To get around the fact that the public seemingly
can’t be trusted to act respectfully around said soldiers, the guards in many, but not
all, cases now stand behind fences or roped off areas. They still have to deal with the heckling,
of course, but at least can now in many posts avoid being stuck with pins. Given the mostly ceremonial nature of the
posting these days, you might be wondering what the guards actually think about while
standing for so long. One guardsman noted, “sometimes I just people
watch” (that, after all, being partially what they are supposed to be doing- keeping
alert for any threats), but at other times, “I tend to sing songs in my head or try
to remember as much of a movie from start to finish in my head… I’ve gotten pretty good at that.” Before a parade, the iconic bear skin hats
of the Queen’s Guard are shampooed and conditioned to make them look as glossy and full as possible. Individual soldiers are also expected to comb
their hats on a daily basis. These bearskin hats are made from Canadian
brown bear and generally weigh around 1 kg, though get significantly heavier when it’s
raining. The practice of the Guard wearing large bearskin
hats dates back to the early 19th century, with the hats’ purpose primarily meant to
intimidate by making the soldier wearing it look much taller. In some ways, the Queen’s Guard are comparable
to the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns in the US. Both are famed for their discipline and commitment
to duty and both can, contrary to popular opinion, deviate from the strict, regimented
routine should a member of the public act in a disrespectful manner. For more about these soldiers you can read
our article about them here: Standing in a Hurricane- Watching Over the Tomb of the Unknowns. Although the soldiers who serve in the Queen’s
Guard are invariably “a member from one of five regiments of the Foot Guard from the
British Army’s Household Division”, specifically the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards,
the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards and the Welsh Guards, (meaning the Queen is being
protected by soldiers from the four countries that make up the United Kingdom) they can,
in theory, hail from any regiment serving in the commonwealth. Because of this, the duties of the Queen’s
Guard have, on occasion, been assumed by everyone from the Royal Marines to the Canadian Expeditionary
Force over the years.

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100 Replies to “Can the Queen’s Guard Really Not React to People While on Duty?”

  1. Now that you know the truth about the Queen's guards check out this video and find out about When the Canadian Government Used “Gay Detectors” to Try to Get Rid of Homosexual Government Employees:

  2. I wonder if you noticed that a guards shoe lace had come untied and he was standing at attention and you attempted to respectfully tie it back for his so that he does not lose composure or trip. What would the response be?

  3. Any military with guards in there name are hard ass mothas, scotts guards, welsh guards, queens guards, dont let the ceremony take away from front line bad asses!

  4. The guard units are regularly rotated into active service which ensures all of the guardsman units are manned by a goodly percentage of veterans.

  5. 'Shoving fag ends down the rifle butts'? That's a good trick if you can do it! Maybe you meant rifle barrels?

  6. Do you know if they're allowed to aid people? Say if hypothetically you were mugged and/or attacked and you can't find a police officer; are they allowed to help you locate one by giving directions or even calling up for one?

  7. My information is that the bearskin hats were awarded to the Guards after Waterloo, commemorating their routing of Napoleon's Old Guard, who wore bearskin hats.

  8. I saw a clip of a tourist annoying a Queens Guard, the Guard then changed the position of his gun and "accidently" hitting the tourist balls.

  9. Why are half-drunk irreverent American tourists allowed to walk up to the guards? Do the British not know how to build fences and gates?

  10. While I have great respect for their duty, the native Californian in me cant help but chortle, "heh 80 degrees. Thats cute.' As i sit here, 2AM, in a room thats at a comfortable 70 degrees lol.

  11. Why the hell would do people intentionally try to make other peoples lives more difficult than necessary? Especially soldiers protecting your nation, even mostly ceremonial guards, why would you treat them like that? Sometimes I hate civilians. lol

  12. What happens to the guards if the really need to scratch their arse or their nose? I don’t know about you but when I have an itchy nose it’s damned hard to keep a straight face.

  13. Wow, I never knew they faced reprimands for breaking their composure. I had already decided to never bother the Guard if I ever get to go to England, as what they do is very difficult and requires a lot of discipline, and they have my respect. But now that I know they get punished, anyone that tries to break their composure is just a dick.

  14. Holy shit, those duty requirements are so aggressively British I almost heard the big ben in the background.

  15. Tourist sticks guard with pin, guard sticks tourist with bayonet …
    Seriously it amazes me how rude folks can be! I understand taking pics and being puzzled by the stoicism of the guard, but being deliberately nasty is just uncool. I imagine the guard had scared a few arseholes with those bayonets from what you've said lol.

  16. I saw a video once where this guy was being a real asshole to a guard, and once he'd sufficiently pissed him off, first he snapped his boots with impressive volume, which already shut him up, but he wasn't done.
    He marched up to his face, pointed his gun at him, cocked it, and yelled at the top of his lungs "Step back from the Queen's guard!"

    Needless to say, the guy shit himself and left the guard alone after that.
    It was glorious.

  17. They passed out in 80* weather!? 🤣🤣🤣 Don't send those boys to Iraq or Afghanistan. They won't last 5 minutes 👎

  18. It might be funny to try getting one of them to smile or laugh at a joke, but these people should otherwise be left alone by tourists.

    I've seen videos of tourists acting especially disrespectful and I don't think that's funny at all.

    They have a job to do, as silly as it might look to some, but maybe for them, your job at McDonald's is silly and they should be able to hop back behind the counter and be disruptive, too!

    Besides, if there's ever danger to the Royal property in which they're ceremoniously patrolling, and they end up needing to use live ammunition, their duty will involve public safety as well, and anyone would much rather have these guys on your side lol than marching away!

  19. How can you guard a station when you just stand there and not look around and behind you all the time, someone can just sneak up on you and you know the rest.

  20. One little trick when standing at attention:

    💂 They went with bear skin hats when it was determined that coonskin caps just plain looked silly

  21. I remember back in 1968 touring the Tower of London with my family. I was 7 years old, the eldest of my siblings, when by brother and sisters and I took a close look at the young guardsman standing sentry duty. The four of us looked him over with respect and admiration, commenting on how impressed we were with his comportment. He smiled briefly upon hearing our praise in our North American accents.

  22. They dont carry those bayoneted rifles for nothing. I have no doubt if there were a real threat they would act accordingly.

  23. I'd rather be a guard in China because over there they can just shoot hecklers or anyone being disrespectful.

  24. A few years ago I saw a guard shout at a stupid tourist. Not at the palace it was …[email protected] horse yards ? He stamped his foot and screamed at him! Cant recall what he said but he was terrifying !

  25. Now that airpods are a thing hopefully they can maybe have one in and listen to some audiobooks or something. It must be so boring to just stand there forever. 🙁

  26. So, today I found out that the United Kingdom is a country that can be entirely controlled by one single, diplomatic immunity-protected outlaw (The Queen), who luckily happens to almost never use any of her insane amount of powers, and she is protected by men wearing pants that were made to conceal it when they piss in them.

    No wonder they're really doing that Brexit thing. Now I understand how Boris Johnson could still become Prime Minister after winning the referendum and then disappearing cowardly like nothing happened.
    Anyway, best of look to you folks on the Island. You're gonna need it.

  27. In response to the question on the video image: are they inanimate objects with no moving parts? No? Then they can move. next question.

  28. But why are they so forbidden to react to everything? Every bit of this seems so absurd and wasteful, including the stupid hats and unreasonable clothing during hot days.

    I wonder what happened with the various people that did things like stick pins in them or oranges on their bayonets.

  29. I may have misheard you, did you say Canadian brown bear, it's quite obvious to me that the fur is from our native and quite abundant black bear species.

  30. I’ve seen them move: when a Chinese family crossed a white line that clearly tells by pictures and written warnings to not cross the white line. He stamped his foot and yelled “DO NOT CROSS THE WHITE LINE!”. Scared the couple so much they nearly fell over themselves.

  31. The weapons are loaded just not made ready. When i used to do it i had 10 rounds in the magazine. Cocking the weapon is a form of intimidation and another warning level towards someone causing a threat.

  32. "These bearskin hats are made from Canadian brown bear" Doesn't he run through his videos before uploading them? I would have though the colour of the hats would be a bit of a giveaway as to their origin.

  33. I did not watch your video because i read the comments first and reading the fucking idiot comments just shows what type of people visit these places.

  34. So the fact that they don't deal with the common rabble doesn't really mean they're ceremonial if they are still totally authorized to protect themselves and the royal family if need be. The fact that they're by nature, elite troops from the British Army honestly means that they are still, in fact, the Queen's Guard in practicality. At least to some degree. Socially speaking they're, with no inappropriate level, still among the most respected enforcers in the country.

    In fact they're so high level they don't have to deal with idiots, they have people to do that for them. Again perhaps not practically so much but socially. You know we got to appreciate culture like this, there isn't so much of it anymore.

    That's what ol Jordan Peterson would say is "climbing the dominance hierarchy"

  35. The stone slabs outside buck house are like polished glass from hundreds of years of marching on them, so bloody slippy

  36. That says a lot about the queen and what kind of joke the British royalty are if the guards have to shit themselves and faint in a certain way

  37. I once was in London with my class and, of course, we also went to watch the guard. And while nobody of us dared to try and mess with the chap, one of us stepped over the line that was painted on the ground in front of him while taking a photo. He, immediately shouted, at the TOP of his lungs (and, boy, was he loud!) "Step BACK from the LINE!" while at the same time bringing his rifle to "half attention" (dunno if that's the right term) – he was, instead of pointing it straight up, now holding it at a 45° angle. Not pointing it at anyone at all, but simply moving it a step closer to being used. Scared the snot out of our whole group back then.

    And somehow I have the feeling that, at least some of them, enjoy that. I mean – he wasn't grinning or anything, but to me he looked like someone who WANTED not to be grinning at that moment… 🙂

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  39. Off the record CAN we use airsoft on them? They just stand THERE THE CHILDREAN ADOLECENT could get there marksman medal GET some EXTRA OUT OF MONY spent on GUARD SERVICE



  42. A while ago, I found a video clip on YT, of a black Londoner who was really taking the piss with a Guard. He was right in the Guard's face, challenging him. Several people told him to back off, the man persisted in his gross behaviour towards the Guard. The Guard told him loudly "Make way" etc, the man persisted, and he was rewarded with a punch in his face. The man wen down, and the Guard walked off.

  43. I'm ashamed of my fellow Americans who mock these men! I tell my friends who think trying tomake them laugh is funny. "How would YOU like it if some dick messed with your paycheck?!"

  44. As an American, it's pretty shameful to know a great number of tourists treat any soldier on patrol with such disrespect and disregard of their duty.

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