Weird History
395.1k readers

What It's Actually Like To Guard The Queen, According To Former Members Of The Queen's Guard

Updated April 2, 2019 395.1k views12 items

If you're ever visited London and caught a glimpse of the guards outside of Buckingham Palace, you know the uniformed men are all business. Life inside the royal residence is fascinating, but have you ever wondered what the guards protecting the queen see on a daily basis? What kind of rules do they have to follow? What's the craziest thing to happen on their watch? 

Some former members of the Queen's Guard shared their experiences on Reddit. Their stories may change your understanding of the stoic boys in red and black.

  • Photo: Cpl Steve Blake/MOD / Wikimedia Commons / OGL

    Guards Carry Live Ammunition When There's A Perceived Threat

    While they largely serve ceremonial roles, the royal guards do occasionally carry live ammunition during high-risk situations. According to Redditor /u/nibs123:

    If there is a major incident, we go out armed and deal with it if we are needed. Also, depending on the threat level at the time, we can be posted with ammo... for extra protection, but this is extremely rare.

  • They May Pull Pranks To Pass The Time


    A post shared by KaRae Rigonan (@karae0420) on


    The job isn't always exciting, and Redditor /u/nibs123 admitted to pulling pranks to pass the time:

    When I'm really bored, I like to mess peoples' pictures up. When a load of... tourists came and set up a huge picture, I waited until the cameraman was counting down to take the picture, then marched up and down my post until they all left... A little evil I know.

  • Photo: Sergeant Rupert Frere RLC/MOD / Wikimedia Commons / OGL

    They're Authorized To Use Weapons When Necessary

    Royal bodyguards have served the British monarchy since the mid-17th century, and they're permitted to use extreme protection measures, though they don't typically kill intruders. According to Redditor /u/nibs123:

    We are legally allowed to attack and kill people that pose a threat to the lives of myself or others. If I was put in a situation where I had to disable someone with my weapon, the person getting on the wrong end of my bayonet would be treated for his injuries and arrested... There would be an investigation on if it was allowed, and if it was, nothing would happen to me.

    On one occasion in January 2017, a guard almost shot Queen Elizabeth while she walked the Buckingham Palace grounds at 3 am. The guard reportedly said, "Bloody hell, Your Majesty, I nearly shot you." The queen allegedly replied, "That’s quite all right. Next time I’ll ring through beforehand, so you don’t have to shoot me."

  • Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Capt. Andrew Bolla / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Keeping Track Of The Royals Is Part Of The Job

    The guards protect all the royals in residence at Buckingham Palace. Redditor /u/nibs123 remembered:

    A few times Prince Harry [went] out in the early afternoon and [had] to be carried back in on a bodyguard's shoulder because he was drunk out of his mind.