The changing of the guard in Oslo at the Royal Palace, the residence of the King of Norway, is a must-see event for visitors to Norway. Taking place every day at the home of King Harald V and Queen Sonja, the free event draws crowds of tourists and locals to witness the military ritual.
History of The King's Guard
The King’s Guard is the military group responsible for the safety of the Royal Family "in times of peace, crisis, and war," according to the Royal House of Norway. The sentries have been on patrol at the Royal Palace for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year since 1888. Initially, the Royal Norwegian Company of Marksmen was created in 1856 to handle security for King Oscar I and then was redubbed "The King’s Guard" in 1866.
The Changing of the Guard
The royal event that takes place at 1:30 p.m. daily, regardless of the weather in Oslo, and takes about 40 minutes from start to finish. To view the changing of the guard, make your way up Karl Johans Gate toward the Royal Palace and join the other visitors waiting for the ceremony to start.
During the summer, mounted police officers and a Norwegian military band lead the guards through the streets of Oslo, starting at the Akershus Fortress at 1:10 p.m. The procession moves to Kirkegaten and then to Karl Johans Gate and the Royal Palace for the changing of the guard. The official change commences when the new watchmen (called gardister) arrive, marching through the park behind the palace. The gardister then meet with the current guard by the watchmen's house for the change.
When to Visit the Royal Palace
While the changing of the guard occurs every day of the year, there's one date that's better than others to visit. On May 17 (Constitution Day in Norway), the changing of the guard becomes an elaborate, city-wide event with marching bands accompanying the Royal Family in a procession.
The Royal Palace
In addition to watching the guards in action, the Royal Palace is worth a visit as it is a historically significant and architecturally stunning landmark. Completed in 1849, it showcases a stunning neo-classical style. The palace is surrounded by a park with ponds, statues, and manicured gardens, perfect for an afternoon stroll or a quick picnic. Visitors can attend church service in the Palace chapel at 11 a.m. on Sundays, or sign up for daily guided tours in the summer.
While it is possible to nab an extra ticket at the door, tours are often sold out, so it's best to book tickets online in advance. The tours run for 1 hour and start every 20 minutes. Tours are given in Norwegian, but there are several English tours daily.
The Royal Guard in Norway
There is also a changing of the guard ceremony at the Akershus Fortress outside Oslo, which is the residence of other important members of the royal family: the Crown Prince and Crown Princess. This event also happens at 1:30 p.m.
Additionally, visitors can also find the ceremony at Bygdøy Kongsgård, Skaugum, and Huseby Camp, the Royal Guard barracks and headquarters.