March 5, 2012

Scenes from England, Part 2: The Changing of the Guard

A few weeks later I woke up at an ungodly hour of the morning with the song "London Calling" running through my head and my suitcase waiting packed for me at the door for a weekend trip to the city. I went with a rather short list - a lot of the things I would have liked to see weren't open anyway, and I didn't fancy the idea of running around trying to see everything. Here are my two favorite moments:

Despite my best efforts to be the chill, go-with-the-flow tourist, I'd become impatient. We were cutting through Hyde Park, and had gone the wrong way around the lake, and so had had to backtrack to see the Peter Pan statue. (Absolutely worth it, by the way. It's charming.) But we were on a schedule - the changing of the guard certainly wouldn't wait for a bunch of slightly lost college students! As we finally reached the exit of the park, we saw the guards on their horses riding by; a bit more confusion, a detour around a packed Buckingham Palace, and several minutes later, we joined a much smaller crowd outside of St. James's Palace, not long before the guards marched out. They were in smart, sensible grey uniforms, but the promised flamboyance came shortly after; what I can only presume is the Royal Marching Band, in beautiful red coats and golden hats. As we watched, expecting them to start their journey to Buckingham Palace, they picked up their instruments - and started playing "No one Mourns the Wicked," from the musical Wicked. Brilliantly, I might add.

I was floored. (And thrilled. I love that musical.) We stood on tip-toe to get the best view of the serious-faced guards performing Broadway, and clapped uproariously when they finished, though of course they didn't respond at all. As they filed out of the palace courtyard towards Buckingham, now playing much more traditional music, we walked alongside them, reveling in the carnival-like atmosphere (bright colors, loud music, and smiling crowds on a sunny morning in the park!) until they disappeared behind the crowds surrounding Buckingham.

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