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Visiting Buckingham palace – the changing of the guards – masses gather before the iron gates and press with shutters held high and clicking.  This is a recollection from my 5 week Europe trip of 2009.

On a spring morning with hazy skies, the clock nearing elevenses, people trickle in before the palace.  The masses grow and swell, old, young, families, couples.  Some seem eager, some play in the grass behind the crowds, oblivious.  All are waiting.

The palace sits behind strong iron.  The masses press against the gates, cameras and hands reach towards the cold stone structure with some plea.  These strong iron walls, their ornate decorum of roaring lions belies their functional purpose. Beyond a group of young men march in synch, weapons cradled against their chest.

And we are all here to watch.  To see a changing of the guard.  Pressed between the cold iron and strong fences we make room for a river of black pavement.  Empty it waits.  Then the drum speaks, and brass joins in.  A jovial march sets in and mechanical pendulum feet swing up and down carrying erect men in red with tall black furs.  The crowded presses eagerly to reach the odd untouchable spectacle. Is their fear of the men on horseback with sabers at their side? Yet they are drawn to the ridiculous combination of reds, blacks, silver.  And most do not even watch.  A screen in the hand holds their focus as they try to focus.

And we gather here in this great city of london before the palace of buckingham to see the changing of the guard.  Pigeons also watch, though they may be watching something different.  Above us a great angel stands, one of war and peace; a tall symbol of hope in victory – of past and present – an inspiration of righteousness.

The changing of the guard.