Thought I would start with this one, it may seem like we stand there all day but its actually 2 hours on guard then into the guardroom into combats to carry out guardrooom duties. Then its back out for another 2 hours
In summer we wear the famous red tunics but in the winter season its greycoats. I personnally loved the greycoat, it may not look as nice as the tunic but all we wore underneath was a t-shirt as they were very warm
There are two sentry boxes at each post. If you see a single guardsman that means the Queen isn't in London but if you see two guardsmen together that means she is in, go knock on the door she'll make you a cup of tea.
We also patrol 15 paces to the left or right and back to stretch legs and can come to attention to change arms to give our arm a rest holding the rifle.
A Bearskin is made up of bear fur wrapped around bent bamboo canes to make the shape, they are completly hollow.
Bearskins are date stamped on the inside at the back so you know when it was made. Mine was from 1969 and the leather band that rests on your head was so soft that in the summer it never hurt, i actually had more than one person try and swap or steal my bearskin. I had a padlock on my bearskin bucket to stop thieves.
I would often wait until a child stopped looking at me and look at their parents to get a photo, just as the photo was taken I would come to attention and slam my foot as loud as I could and hope that parents everywhere have photos of their kids crying
Some of the fondest memories I have were due to Americans. One time I was on guard while the Queen was in residence so there were two of us and there were a group of American students messing around, one male was showing off to the girls and put his arm around me. Like all good soldiers I challenged him by stamping my foot raising rifle and yelling "GET BACK" No-one expects guards to move so naturally they all got a fright and the girls all laughed at the guy.
This obviously upset him so he started getting more rowdy. Im not a big guy, without my bearsking I am 5'9" but with bear skin i looked over 6' but this guy was bigger than me, but I had a rifle.
Anyway it started to rain so we took our bayonets off rifles and got in the sentry box. Inside the box there are 3 buttons black, white and red. One contacts the other box to tell them to go for patrols, one contacts the guardsroom where other soldiers are on stag and the third button connects directly to armed police.
The American guy tried to get into the box with me so i chased him out, he tried a second time but this time he pressed one of the buttons which alerted armed police, within 30 seconds i was surrounded by 8 heavily armed police and the American guy burst into tears and tried to run up Pall Mall to get away. He came back in tears appologising to me and the police while all his friends were in hysterics!
We used to get an old casio watch and set an alarm then hide it right in the inside of the next person to go on guards bearskin. We would all then watch on the cameras at the time the alarm would go off and watch the guy on guard panick as he realises his bearskin is beeping.
I had it happen to me once and its mortifying but you have to style it out and watch all the tourists try and figure out whats going on
I always found Tower Bridge to be the most fun, its usually relaxed and tourists love the place