Queen Elizabeth II’s Guardsman Reveals Only Time They Are Allowed to Speak

When we think of Queen Elizabeth II‘s palace guards a few adjectives come to mind including stoic, still, and silent. But there is a time when they can actually speak.

A working guard has revealed when that is as well as what they do when they need to relieve themselves. Here’s more on that, plus a few other things you may not have known about the men and women who stand outside the monarch’s royal residences.

Queen Elizabeth II inspects guards
Queen Elizabeth II inspects guards | Andrew Winning-WPA Pool/Getty Images

What the guards do when they have to relieve themselves

It’s a common belief that the queen’s guards stand perfectly still in the same position for hours when they’re on duty, but that’s not the case.

There are health risks associated with standing for long periods of time without moving. Therefore, the guards pace back and forth about every 10 minutes during their shifts. However, they are not permitted to run off for a bathroom break. So what happens when they have to go?

According to guard Shaun Marsden, since they can’t leave their post they relieve themselves on the spot. He pointed out that the trousers they wear are thick and black for that reason saying the pants “are sufficiently dark to cover their embarrassment.”

When they are permitted to talk

Queen Elizabeth II rides in carriage past guards
Queen Elizabeth II rides in carriage past guards | Leon Neal/AFP via Getty Images

Another guardsman with the screen name “nibs123,” who claimed he was a member of the British army Household division, did a Reddit AMA to answer other burning questions people have about his job. Because the guards are famous for staying silent, he was asked if there is a time when they are allowed to speak. Turns out, there is.

Readers Digest noted that nibs123 said guards “are allowed to get [people] away by shouting…warnings if they fail to move away or start to act aggressively.” He explained that he and his colleague can yell “make way for the Queen’s Guard!” when tourists get in their way.

The Redditor also revealed that he has spoken to the queen before.

“When I was on guard at Windsor Castle, she came up to me with her husband and the dogs and asked me some questions,” he said, adding, “She’s really nice.” 

And when it comes to the guards laughing, which is something many believe is forbidden, nibs123 claims it does happen.

“I try not to, but sometimes you just can’t help it; some people are just too funny,” the guard admitted.

Their hats are very heavy

Soldier from the Coldstream Guard
Soldier from the Coldstream Guard | LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images

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The part of their uniform that usually fascinates people is their hats.

Nibs123 got a lot of questions about the large black hats they wear and offered a bit of information about them.

He stated that the hats are quite heavy, weighing between four and a half to nine pounds. Of course, they’re even heavier when rain wets them.

He also shared that the furry headpieces are actually made from real bear fur and because of that they aren’t replaced often. In fact, the one nibs123 wears on the job is from 1968.