let your thoughts wander

Category: London

Woman's feet wearing black socks and grey shoes at the bottom of the photo, men's feet wearing tennis shoes at the top of the photo, with a gold colored medallion in the middle that reads "The Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Walk".

Sunday stroll through Hyde Park

As we started our walk along the Princess Diana Memorial Walkway, we were greeted by horses and guards leading the way of an opulent parade. They were followed by men, women, and children dressed in what appeared to be their Sunday best. Then came the police motorcade that seemed to go on forever. Impatiently waiting, our curiosity grew – was the car they were guarding carrying the queen?

As we watched, a middle-aged woman exited the car and took her post at the head of the crowd. We had no clue who she was or the purpose of the parade, but after doing some searching later, we discovered it was Princess Anne and the parade was the Annual Calvary Memorial Parade and Service of the Combined Calvary Old Comrades Association. What a unique and interesting event to happen upon by pure chance.

Looking over a wall at ancient castle-like building

Experiencing a ritual from ancient times

I cannot say enough about the importance of doing research – especially through reading books – when planning trips. Searching the internet will give you a plethora of information for your destination, but the books are where you will find the interesting, off the beaten path things to see and do. I can thank my DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: London book for leading Bill and I to experience the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. A quite exclusive experience that – nearly 5 years and 8 countries later – we can still say is one of the most memorable.

While it is free to attend the ceremony, you must register for tickets in order to attend as they only allow 40-50 visitors each night. You must also be sure to show up on time or you will risk not being admitted in as the ceremony is on a rigid schedule. (It has only been delayed once -once when during WWII when a bomb knocked a couple of warders off their feet.) No photos or video are allowed during the ceremony – for obvious reason.

As we stood in the dark, witnessing a ceremony that was initiated hundreds of years ago, I knew the experience would be one we would never forget. Such orchestration for something many would expect to be a simple transaction. It was truly watching history before our eyes. A ritual that I hope never changes.


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