Coronavirus: No ceremonial Changing of the Guard at royal palaces

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
The ceremonial changing of the guard was still attracting large crowds. (Getty Images)

There will not be ceremonial Changing of the Guard events at the royal palaces to prevent mass gatherings, Buckingham Palace has said.

It affects the events at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Windsor Castle.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “In line with Government advice to avoid mass gatherings, it has been agreed that the ceremonial of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Windsor Castle will be postponed until further notice.

“Advice will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, with a view to restarting when appropriate.”

The decision comes after the Queen left London a week early for Easter Court in Windsor Castle.

The monarch released a statement calling for everyone to play their part as she and her husband Prince Philip arrived at the Berkshire home.

Read more: Queen holds audience with Boris Johnson over the phone amid coronavirus pandemic

She has seen many of her planned engagements postponed and had to cancel her annual garden parties for 2020 in line with government advice.

The Queen left London on Thursday. (Press Association)
Two women wearing protective face masks stand among tourists watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace. (Getty Images)

Cabinet figures including Matt Hancock have urged people to stay at home as much as possible and avoid pubs, cafes, and restaurants to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Despite that, recent photos of Buckingham Palace show the daily event was still attracting crowds, though some were wearing masks.

On Thursday the Queen said the world was in a time of “concern and uncertainty” and said her family was ready to help.

Read more: How Prince Andrew or Prince Harry could be called on if the Queen gets coronavirus

In a statement, she said: “We are enormously thankful for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services; but now more than any time in our recent past, we all have a vitally important part to play as individuals – today and in the coming days, weeks and months.

“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. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”

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At 93, the Queen is in the government’s age bracket to be classed as high risk. Her son Charles, at 71, is also in the group, as is his wife Camilla who is 72.

The Royal Family was following government advice on avoiding hand shaking at the beginning of the outbreak, and is said to be continuing to follow official guidance.

That would mean practicing social distancing, only going out for exercise and essential trips, while maintaining two metres distance between those they don’t live with.