Posts Tagged ‘Buckingham Palace’

Planes, Motorcades and a Dude in a Dress

fighter jets over london
Fighter jets flying over Buckingham Palace

It’s been a busy weekend in London. Yesterday was the Queen’s official birthday, and though I didn’t go to see the “Trooping of the Colour,” I did happen to see a lot of horses walking down Grosvenor St. and then was quite shocked to see an air-show worthy fly-by by lots of military jets — including fighter jets flying in formation, giant bombers lots of other gray air behemoths — passing right over Buckingham Palace.

A few hours later, I was walking home and as I passed by Hyde Park Corner, I had to stop to let a police escort whisk a royal motorcade into the park — there were crowns on all the black cars, though only one had the crown right on the top, where a taxi’s sign would be. It may have been the queen, though I didn’t really get a good look into any of the cars.

Apparently Pres Bush is also in town right now, staying by us at the Dorchester, and we saw what we believed was his motorcade, with even more police escorts than the royal one I saw yesterday, coming down Piccadilly tonight. We also saw a man in a dress. Well, more a skirt and top, actually, which, you know, wasn’t necessarily that notable. But about a minute later, we passed by a man with a thick Southern accent who said in a bewildered voice, “I don’t know what was more exciting tonight, seeing President Bush or seeing the dude in the dress”!

I also saw an old man wearing pink bunny ears and smoking a cigarette on Marylebone High Street this afternoon (LJ, where’s the photo?), so it’s been a bit of an odd weekend — though fun — to say the least.

My Fascination with Horse Guards Parade

Horse GuardThough the royal guards in front of Buckingham Palace can be interesting to watch — all their pacing and stomping and saluting can be quite dramatic — you never get all that close to the action. There are large gates, big crowds and a lot of distance between you. It’s not like in the movies where you can go up and mess with the guards next to their stations. Horse Guards Parade is more like the movies, but with horses and much stranger uniforms.

The guards have long red coats, boots they can barely walk in — their stomping and walking is much mor awkward than the other guards’ — and hats with what I’d describe as horse-haired scepters up top. Oh, and they also have big swords. That may be the best part. This building is right on a busy street and there are guards outside, with tourists close enough to trip over them, who have giant swords on their shoulders.

Also, many of the guards look really young — the one in the archway looked like he could still be in high school. His uniform seemed to big, and he didn’t seem to be terribly adept at standing still yet.

Horse GuardWe came to Horse Guards Parade through the archway from St. James Park. The building and guards originally served as the entrance to Buckingham Palace, but since the park and other streets near it are now open, it only serves a ceremonial purpose.

Still, seeing those big horses standing in their archways — with warnings that they can bite or kick you — is a bit imposing, though doesn’t seem to stop people from getting quite close and even putting their kids near the horses’ hoofs (see the photo). And the tourists here seem sillier than in other parts of the city, standing next to the mounted and unmounted guards and taking photos like the guards were inanimate objects, and cramming into the nearby phone booths to take photos.

Evan and I didn’t get into any photos with the guards. It just seemed a little weird. We’ll still gape and take photos, though.

Photo Walk: Green Park, St. James Park and Buckingham Palace

Evan and I started our sightseeing on Saturday with a walk through Green Park, stopping at Buckingham Palace before heading through St. James Park to the Horse Guards Parade.

Green Park

Green Park

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

St. James Park Lake

St. James Park Lake

Horse Guards Parade

Horse Guards Parade

A Run in St. James Park and Green Park

Horse Guards Parade and St. James LakeToday, I went for another run — this time in the other nearby parks, St. James Park and Green Park, which are adjacent to Buckingham Palace. I thought Hyde Park was great on my Saturday run, but St. James Park turned out to be a real treat.I entered Green Park off Piccadilly Street and jogged pretty close to straight through until I saw something interesting. There were fancy gates, a giant statue with the top figure in gold and lo and behold, Buckingham Palace itself, a rather unassuming and monochrome building, though it has a commanding presence. I almost forgot it was so close! I took a moment to gape, but jogged on, entering St. James Park at the top of its lake.

I jogged down the lake, watching the ducks, swans, geese and pigeons play on the grass and in the water that was flanked by delicate weeping willows blowing in the breeze. And I started to realize I could see just about every major London monument right from the center of the park.

I saw some of Parliament and Westminster Abbey off in the distance. I could see the London Eye as well, and there was a gorgeous view of the Horse Guards Parade, which is a much more fanciful building than the palace. I stopped for a moment to read a plaque about the Horse Guards Parade at the end of the lake, and continued back up its other side amid people feeding pigeons and squirrels out of their hands (I’m pretty sure they’re not allowed to do that, though).

Running in St. James ParkI stopped to check out the view from of the palace from the bridge over the lake, though once again I felt that the Horse Guards view was nicer, and jogged up to the palace and took a weaving way back through Green Park’s small, rolling hills, which make the park feel very private and quiet, despite its proximity to busy Piccadilly.

After I was done, I treated myself to some juice from Crussh on Curzon Street and relaxed in the juice bar/cafe while drawing a few memories from my run, including the view of the Horse Guards Parade from the bridge and my hat blowing off — that actually happened twice on the run, though it didn’t get too far away from me. I’ll post the sketches soon — probably tomorrow.

Update (1/18/08): Sorry for the delay in posting the images. Also, I’d like to note that the Horse Guards drawing was from memory and bears little resemblance to the actual building. Still thought you might enjoy, though.