Days out in England:
Pomp and Circumstance

England is rightly famous for its grand spectacles and if you want to see a bit of the pomp and circumstance that is part of England's royal traditions during your days out in England, then London is the place to do it.

Events like the Trooping the Colour, the State Opening of Parliament or the Lord Mayor's Show are real tourist attractions, drawing often vast crowds even though many English people take little notice of these on a regular basis.

Some of these events - for example the Changing of the Guard or the Ceremony of the Keys - take place almost every day. Others, like the State Opening of Parliament, the Lord Mayor's Show or Trooping the Colour are annual evens.

And even if you're not the most 'touristy' of people - I know I'm not that happy in a crowd - you should make a point to see these at least once in your life. It's an experience!

Most of big spectacles are free to watch, but if you want a good vantage point it pays to turn up early. Some true Royalists come to these events every year and know precisely where to stand to get the best possible view.

Away from the big events, you can also explore England's royal palaces and castles for a glimpse into a very different world.

So what should go on your 'Must-See' list of royal days out in England?

The Changing of the Guard
The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London
Trooping the Colour
The State Opening of Parliament
The Lord Mayor's Show and Procession
Tour a Royal Palace



Changing of the Guards

This takes place most days and tends to be busy but not excessively crowded. If you happen to be in Central London at lunchtime, just take a few minutes to watch the Changing of the Guards outside Buckingham Palace or outside Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall - it's fun!

Another place to see the Guards change is Windsor Castle. Here, the New Guard will leave their Victoria Barracks at approximately 10:45am and march through the centre of Windsor. The Changing the Guard Ceremony will take place inside Windsor Castle at around 11am.

Royal Guards outside Buckingham Palace

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The Ceremony of the Keys

If you're a bit more of a Royalist or prepared to go a little out of your way, then you could watch the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London.

For the last 700 years the Tower of London - where kings used to live, prisoners languished and the Crown Jewels are kept - has been securely locked every night.

These days, visitors are allowed to watch the 'locking-up' ceremony. Entry is free, but as the numbers of people allowed in each night are strictly controlled - no crowds here - you must apply in writing for tickets at least two months in advance.

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Trooping the Colour

This is Her Majesty The Queen's Annual Birthday Parade and I remember watching it on TV as a child, amazed that Her Majesty could ride side-saddle!

These days, she is driven in a carriage from Buckingham Palace along Pall Mall to Horse Guards Parade to take the salute of her troops and people gather along the way to wave and cheer her.

In 2011, the parade will take place on Saturday 11th June.

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The State Opening of Parliament

This annual event - usually in late October or November - marks the beginning of the new parliamentary year. In full regalia, Her Majesty is driven from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament, where she gives a speech outlining the plans of her government for the coming year.

It's one of the things that make English pageantry so much fun to watch ... it's a good chance to see the wonderful carriages and members of the Royal court all in their finery and still and event full of rituals and traditions that remind us of days gone by.

For a detailed description of what's happening and why try this site.

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The Lord Mayor's Show and Procession

This one's ancient history made real, going back to the times when Londoners had a reputation for having their own mind and doing their own thing - rather than what they was told by the reigning king or queen.

Throughout the ages, each year the Mayor of London had to travel in procession from Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice, there to take an oath of allegiance to the sovereign before the Lord Chief Justice and the judges of the Queen's Bench Division.

The procession sets off from Victoria Embankment to Mansion House at 1pm and returns to Mansion House at about 2.30pm, before the day finishes with one of London's grandest firework displays at 5 o'clock from a barge moored in the Thames between Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges.

In 2010, this fun parade takes place on Saturday 13th November. Make sure you arrive by public transport, though, as parking will be a nightmare. For details, routes, running order and all things to do with the parade, check out this site.

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