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What Is the Guards' Museum?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Cartwright
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 08 April 2014
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The Guards' Museum is located in London, England. This museum displays items and information about the five regiments of the British Army that are collectively known as the Foot Guard. They are part of the military division, called Her Majesty's Household Division, that is directly responsible for safeguarding the British royal family and palaces. The Grenadiers, Coldstream Guard, and Scots are the member regiments of the Foot Guard. The Irish and Welsh Guards round out the five.

Units of the Foot Guard, along with the cavalry regiments the Life Guard, and the Blues and Royals, have been bodyguards to British royalty since Charles I was king. In addition to their bodyguard duties, the units making up the division also serve on active duty, including in both World Wars, the Korean war and the actions of the early 21st century in Afghanistan. At any give time at least a battalion of one of the regiments is stationed in London as guards for the Queen.

The Guards' Museum is housed within in the Wellington Barracks. This complex of buildings stands very near to Buckingham Palace and houses whichever units within the Division are currently on duty as guards of the Queen. Members of the guard are those seen as ceremonial guards at Buckingham Palace, and during the warmer part of the year visitors can watch the guards for the palace form up outside the museum in preparation for the march to the palace for the changing of the guard there.

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Memorabilia of the Guard's history was maintained for internal purposes for hundreds of years. The Guards' Museum was opened in the 1980s to allow the public access to these materials. Items on display within the museum include both active duty and ceremonial uniforms, regimental records of various sorts, medals and awards. Paintings of historic interest and a range of items that were used by unit members while serving are also found in the collection. Informational displays give a picture of the history of the Guard units.

The museum also houses the military uniform then Princess Elizabeth wore while reviewing the Division at a ceremony in 1947 at the age of 16. Another high point of the Guards' Museum for many visitors is the collection of toy soldiers available in the museum's gift shop. The Guards' Museum is a non-profit organization and a society of friends of the museum support it with financial contributions. British citizens can also designate part of their tax payments as support for the museum.

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