This parade ground is most famous for the celebration of the Queen’s offical birthday in June; Trooping the Colour (oh and for having hosted the beach volleyball event in the London 2012 Olympic Games!).
This year this spectacle will be celebrated this Saturday, 17 June.
Horse Guards Parade is the ceremonial parade ground in St James’s Park and dates from the 18th century. Horse Guards is the building with a clock tower over an archway and to this day remains the offical entrance to St James’s and Buckingham Palace; it was designed by William Kent, the then Chief Architect to King Georg II.
The central windows you can see are opened for members of the Royal Family during the event, so that they can watch the Queen as she reviews her troops.
The entry to the parade ground is guarded by 2 mounted cavalry troopers from The Queen’s Life Guard. They are posted there every day from 10:00hrs to 16:00hrs and their change over takes place at 11:00hrs daily, except Sundays, when the change takes place at 10:00hrs.
The “Colour” is the battalion flag which is “Trooped” (carried) slowly down the ranks of the assembled soldiers (if it is very hot you may see one or two of the soldiers actually passing out, as has happened in the past). This is a tradition that was originally done so that each soldier was familiar with his battalion’s flag, which was used as a rallying point during battle. The Queen personally carries out the inspection of her troops. Once the main ceremony is over, the Queen leads her troops down the Mall to Buckingham Palace where she makes a salute at the Palace (when she was younger she would physically lead them down riding on one of her horses, these days she takes one of royal carriages). As with all such traditions, at the end of all this the Queen appears on the famous balcony of Buckingham Palace.
You cannot buy tickets to this event, you have to enter a ballot in January/February and hope that in March your name is drawn.