Take Five for Changing of the Guard
When we think of The Changing of the Guard ceremony, we usually think of London and Buckingham Palace. Britain isn’t the only country which has a regular Changing of the Guard.
I was in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. I was chatting with a friend on the phone. He asked if I’d seen the Changing of the Guard? My reply was “What Changing of the Guard?”. He explained that if I went to the Prague Castle, I could enjoy the daily ceremony of Changing of the Guard.
I carried out a quick spot of research. I discovered that there is a Changing of the Guard ceremony each day at midday. The spectacle includes a flag ceremony and musical fanfare. It takes place in the first courtyard of the Prague Castle.
Don’t worry if you can’t be there at midday though. There is a smaller Changing of the Guard which takes place on the hour, every hour from 7am to 6pm. This is when the guards who stand in the sentry boxes beside the Castle gates change duty.
The guards are from a special division of the Czech army. Their task is to serve the President of the Czech Republic. The members of this special division are chosen according to a number of criteria. They have to be a certain height and they can’t be overweight. The guards not allowed any piercings or tattoos. They aren’t even allowed to have beards!
The division was formed in 1918 and currently has around 650 members. As well as looking after the safety of the President, members of the division can often be found walking around the Castle grounds. They watch over any events which are taking place and the security of visitors to the Castle.