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LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Band of the Coldstream Guards on parade during the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on September 19, 2022 in London, England. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London on 21 April 1926. She married Prince Philip in 1947 and ascended the throne of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth on 6 February 1952 after the death of her Father, King George VI. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III.  (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)
Inside the Duties of a Royal Guard’s Shift
History - Science
Royal guards are charged with numerous tasks that prepare them for their long-standing (no pun intended) work as protectors of the royal family. Before they adorn themselves in thick scarlet uniforms and bearskin hats, royal guards are required to pass the British Army Recruit Battery test (or BARB) which weighs their cognitive and orientation skills, numeric fluency, and performance under pressure.
Officially, the guards clad in red tunics and black hats are called Foot Guards, and their position within the royal circle is more or less ceremonial. Whenever the monarch is present, there are no less than four Foot Guards stationed outside the facility at all times (two when they are elsewhere), and though they are known to carry swords and rifles as part of their uniform, the firearms aren't actually loaded unless there's a clear and present threat looming over the city.
The royal guards usually hold the post for two hours at a time, with four-hour intervals in between where they are required to remain frozen stiff like scarlet effigies for at least 10 minutes before they relocate. "It's best to do this every 10 minutes or so to stop yourself from fainting from the blood that gets trapped in your legs," one Foot Guard anonymously shared.
The bearskin headpieces worn by the royal guards, which were originally intended to inspire intimidation on the battlefield some two centuries ago, can weigh up to nine pounds. The human head alone can weigh up to 13 pounds, so it's kind of like standing perfectly still with a whole other head balanced on top of the one you already have for two hours at a time — it's without a doubt, a hard job that's worthy of respect.