If you have ever been to London and witnessed the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace you have been fortunate. Watching the visually stunning troops in their resplendent scarlet uniforms and Bearskin hats, for which they’ve become famous, is a sight to behold. I witnessed the change of the guard many years ago on a Labor Day and it was well worth it.

Five Foot Regiments of Foot Guards, part of the Household Division, provide the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace. Those are the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, and the Welsh Guards.

The troops have two roles in the British Army: They are first and foremost conventional trained infantry soldiers who carry out operational duties worldwide. Yet, they also perform ceremonial tasks by participating in State and Royal ceremonial events. They are somewhat akin to the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) that is stationed in Ft. Myer, VA. 

Drum Major of the U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own). (U.S. Army photo)

The wearing of the Bearskin hat isn’t only an English practice. There are 14 armies that still wear it, albeit today strictly for ceremonial purposes. Even the Governor’s Foot Guard of the Connecticut State Guard wears it. In the U.S. Army, only the Drum Major of the U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own) wears a version of the Bearskin Hat that is very similar to the British.