Bright Side
NewPopular
Inspiration
Creativity
Wonder

How They Relieve Themselves on Duty and 8 More Facts the Queen’s Guards Share About Their Job

We all recognize the fur hat, the red coat, the stiff pose, and the serious face. People often consider the Queen’s Guards to be true icons of Great Britain. However, most of us are unaware of the details about these soldiers’ routines.

We at Bright Side selected a few facts, based on the accounts of former royal guards, to show you how this job is a little harder than it seems.

1. There are no bathroom breaks, ever.

During their shifts guarding the sentry posts, it’s not true that the guards have to stay completely still (they march a short distance from time to time). What is true is that they can never leave their post. Not even to use the bathroom.

What if they’re unable to hold their business and really need to go, you ask? They simply just do it anyway, right there on the spot. The thick woolen pants are supposedly able to cover any trace of the “accident.” We’re not so sure about the smell though.

2. They can spend a total of 6 hours a day standing.

After getting an acceptable score on the BARB test, a soldier is ready to join the Queen’s Guard. The salary for this job is paid based on the list defined by the British army, with values starting at £20,400 (or $23,934).

They perform 2-hour shifts standing in the sentry posts. During this period, they march a short distance every 10 minutes. An entire day of work can have 2 or 3 shifts with short breaks for resting.

3. They can be punished for laughing on duty.

The Queen’s Guards’ ability to keep a straight face, even with numerous daily attempts to make them laugh, is seen by some as almost supernatural. But they have some pretty good motivation to resist the temptation.

If a guard smiles while on duty, the fine can be up to $200. Not so funny after all.

4. They’re not simply “ceremonial soldiers.”

Even though they’re known mostly for their ceremonial duties, the soldiers on the Queen’s Guard are all part of the British Army. Normally, they’re highly trained infantry troops, often with previous combat experience.

Having its own guard of selected soldiers is a practice the monarchy has held since the reign of King Henry VII during the fifteenth century. The ceremonial tradition, however, came a little later, around 1689.

5. Their guns are actually empty.

Maybe one of the main reasons the Queen’s Guards are always so serious is because they hope this will keep any troublemakers away and they won’t have to use their guns — because they’re all empty.

They don’t ever wield loaded guns unless there’s a high-level threat that obliges them to.

6. They have a particular (and understandable) distaste for heat and rain.

On hot summer days, the heavy coats can cause the soldiers to actually faint in the heat. And if that happens, it’s not as simple as just passing out. The guards have a “fainting etiquette, ” which instructs them to fall on the ground, always facing down, and never letting go of their rifles.

As for the rainy days (and there are quite a lot of those in England), the water can make their bearskin hats feel 4 lb to 9 lb heavier.

7. Their hats were originally designed to scare their enemies.

The iconic bearskin hats were designed this way to make the Queen’s Guards look bigger, thus more intimidating in battle. As the name suggests, these hats are actually made out of the fur from black bears.

The guards are also strongly “encouraged” to take good care of their hats, as damaging one could cost them a $400 fine.

8. There are women in the Queen’s Guard ranks.

Although the iconic troops are usually associated with male figures, there are more and more women joining the Queen’s Guard.

The first ones performed sentry duties in 2000 outside of the Queen’s official residence in London. More recently, a female soldier was chosen to lead the Queen’s Guard in Buckingham Palace.

9. They’re allowed to have some fun at work.

They may not be permitted to laugh, but that doesn’t mean it’s forbidden to have a sense of humor. Every now and then, the Queen’s Guards do have some fun.

Like during the change of the guards, when the band doesn’t play traditional military music, they’ll instead deliver some more entertaining tunes to the hundreds of tourists watching them, such as the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Austin Powers theme songs.

Do you know about any other curiosities regarding the Queen’s Guard that we failed to mention? Please do tell us in the comment section.

Preview photo credit a_terracini / Flickr