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April 19, 2024

Every Day at 4:00pm: The Punishment Parade in London, England

Experiencing British tradition and pageantry, such as witnessing the iconic Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace or the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London, is an unforgettable aspect of any private England tour.

A lesser-known ceremony is the four o’clock inspection, also known as the Punishment Parade, that takes place every day in the courtyard of the magnificent 18th-century Horse Guards building, the ceremonial entrance to the royal residences of Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace and former military headquarters of the British Empire. 

During the Punishment Parade, the mounted on-duty sentries of the King’s Life Guard—the crimson-cloaked cavalry and foot soldiers that protect the monarch and guard the royal residences—are lined up with infantry guards and inspected by an officer before being dismissed for the day. Following the inspection, dismounted sentries remain on duty through the night.

The ceremonial tradition dates to the reign of Queen Victoria, who initiated it as a form of punishment after finding her guards drunk or asleep on the job. She decreed the inspection last for 100 years. Although the expiry date for the punishment inspection passed in 1994, Queen Elizabeth II ordered it continue as a regimental ceremony.

Punishment Parade in LondonArtisans of Leisure can incorporate this ceremony into any of our private London tours. We can also arrange tours of nearby sites, including the Household Cavalry Museum and the working stables, providing a unique glimpse into the history and tradition of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. 

Housed in the cavalry’s original 17th-century stables, the museum showcases the history of the prestigious regiment from the 1660s through the present day.

Exhibits include uniforms, historic weapons, artifacts and memorabilia related to the Household Division, offering visitors insight into the regiment’s history and ongoing role in ceremonial duties, state occasions and military operations.

Attending the daily Punishment Parade combines well with privately touring nearby iconic sites such as Westminster Abbey, the Churchill War Rooms, St. James’s Park and Buckingham Palace.

Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private England tour that features the cultural and historic highlights of London, including attending the Punishment Parade, the Ceremony of the Keys, Changing of the Guard and other uniquely British experiences. 

Destinations:  England, Europe, UK

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