The last time I took a stroll down the Mall to the Palace was during the Royal Wedding of 1986. I had the same fantastic view of that event as television anchor Tom Brokaw of NBC News, because I stood within earshot of him and his crew as they broadcasted live to millions back in America. I also remember chatting with Valerie Pringle of CBC News during one of the long waits for the royal couple to appear on the balcony or for the carriage to arrive from Westminster Abbey, I can't remember which. It goes without saying that the place was jam packed with a million people, and was on the whole a rather exhausting experience waiting, waiting and more waiting. So I was pleased to be back 23 years later in a more tranquil setting.
I snapped the photo above from St. James's Park. I forgot just how massive the Palace really is. Below is St. James's Palace commissioned by Henry VIII in 1532. St. James's Palace is still a working palace, and the Royal Court is still formally based here – foreign ambassadors are still accredited to the Court of St. James's, even though they are received by the monarch at Buckingham Palace. It is also the current London residence of the Princess Royal.
Heading down the Mall from St. James's Palace
Clarence House, formerly the Royal Residence of The Queen Mother. Now the Royal Household of Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Willam and Prince Harry.
There are only three entrances to access the round turn at Buckingham Palace: The gates are called South Africa, Australia and Canada.
The Canada Gate
The Palace Gates
Her Majesty was not in Residence
Wellington Barracks situated beside Buckingham Palace just past the Australia Gate. The Queen's guard and horse guard regiments are conveniently housed here, since they have to form up everyday to carry out the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
The Parade Commander screams "Buckingham detachment, attention". I was so cast in this tradition at military college, I felt like marching on to join their ranks. The major difference now is that the rifles they use today are too short to order arms. The arms are now carried at the shoulder at all times.
One of the bands march off to change the Queen's guard.
At the other end of the Mall is the Horse Guards Parade where the annual Trooping of the Colour takes place. Tournaments were once held here in the time of Henry VIII, which will soon enough be converted into the beach volleyball venue for the London 2012 Olympics.