As requested, I've previously served in the Grenadier Guards for four years. I've been on countless ceremonial duties including Street lining for the Royal Wedding, three Trooping of the colour and even a ceremonial duty in Kuwait.

Due to legal reasons, there could be questions I'm not allowed to answer. So this is an Ask Me Almost Anything.

  1. How boring does this job get and how do you cope with that? A. A Job is a job, it's exciting at first then you just get on with it like any other.

  2. How casual can it be compared to the perception of stoicism your job carries? A. Being Grenadier Guards we are the most prestigious, well drilled and most disciplined out of the five regiments. We had a lot of pressure to ensure we kept to what was expected of us.

  3. What are your other duties outside of just standing there? A. We do have other duties but sadly can't answer this question.

  4. What moments did you hate your job? A. Loosing my weekend plans due to ceremonial duty wasn't fun

  5. Any entertaining anecdotes/interactions with citizens or tourists? A. Being a Queens Guard also means that I'm a trained Soldier. I was fresh back from tour and had a duty at St James Palace, an American tourist said to me "It's all well and good you guys standing there, but there are real soldiers out there that are doing real soldiering" I was wearing my Afghanistan medal while I just stared at him with hatred.

As for proof as I'm no longer serving in the Armed Forces. I do still have pictures if requested. For now here is my medals, beret and buff belt i used throughout my career.

Edit: I'll come back to this tomorrow feel free to leave a question, for now I'm off to bed.

Edit 2: Calling this to a close. Thank you for your time

edit 3: If you leave a question I will try and get to it when I can, I thought all questions had been asked

Comments: 253 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

Cheapdime144 karma

I work with a guy that told me a story about when he was young (probably going back 25 years). He was in London with his dad and was having a picture with a guard, and his dad told him to move closer because the guard ‘won’t bite’, however the guard whispered (jokingly) “yes I do”. Would this be frowned upon or something you could get in trouble for?

Killco_Joe18 karma

I swear I've heard a similar story like that! Frowned upon yes, but that doesn't mean its not funny.

Chickens1141 karma

What was your exposure to the Royal family and were there any who you felt treated you badly?

Killco_Joe257 karma

No. They are all wonderful down to earth people from the ones I have met. Prince Philip is hilarious.

safefart37 karma

The world's going to be not so funny without Phil

Killco_Joe104 karma

You have to take what he says in jest, he's an old fella with a great sense of humour. My grandad was the same way.

zeebas134 karma

Have you ever met the corgis?

Killco_Joe181 karma

Yes, . They were getting walked by the house keeper in Windsor at the time.

zeebas83 karma

Were they good boys?

Killco_Joe330 karma

Yes, they were G O O D B O Y E S

WhattheBANANUH17 karma

Did you just want to go up to them and cuddle with the corgis?

Killco_Joe6 karma

No, but my SO would love to i'm sure.

Snowbank_Lake89 karma

I remember being told while touring the Tower of London that the guards are holding real guns and are trained to use them. Has a Queen's Guard ever had to actually use their weapon while on duty?

Killco_Joe144 karma

Yes the rifles are real, yes we are trained to use them. Like I have mentioned in the description, we are trained as soldiers primarily. To be a Queens Guard you join the Armed Forces.

Snowbank_Lake62 karma

Right. I might not have been clear... my question was whether or not there's been an example of a guard actually needing to use the rifle while on duty?

Also, on behalf of my fellow tourists, I'm sorry for all the crap you guys deal with from people who don't actually know how hard you work.

Killco_Joe63 karma

There had been an incident a few years ago at Buckingham Palace he had to raise his bayonet. Google it it's easy enough to find.

Calamius85 karma

Can the Queen's Guard interact with the crowd/people at all. Like if asked for a photo or a "Hello, how are you?".

Killco_Joe152 karma

No not at all while on duty, we are there to do a job.

ekorigin73 karma

Which tourists are the worst?

Killco_Joe204 karma

The ones who think they can treat The Queens Guard how ever they like and think its funny.

OniExpress67 karma

Sorry about that American. Were you just internally thinking "please do something to warrant me at least screaming at you"?

But on a serious note, the public perception is that the role is largely a ceremonial one. Were there any occasions where either by warning or observation you thought things were about to get terribly serious?

Killco_Joe121 karma

  1. The American guy seemed like your standard Trump supporter. I was a few weeks back from tour. I wanted to rip is head off. My SO is American, so don't think I don't like Americans.

  2. Good question, there were a few occasions where we were warned of serious threats to us.

serialcp563 karma

How does one become a Queen's Guard?

Killco_Joe93 karma

I joined the British Army at a young age. I joined The Grenadier Guards and they are part of the Household Division.

Demderdemden63 karma

So with the Youtube videos you see many falling over, and other embarrassing situations. I've watched the doco about how strict the unit commanders and such are -- do these guys get in a lot of shit for these sorts of mistakes, or is it understood that mistakes happen even in the elite units?

Also, what's with the marching really quickly in and out of rooms that I saw you all do in the doco? Seems like an easy way to pull a muscle and looks silly...

Killco_Joe111 karma

  1. Depends on the seriousness of the situation. Buckingham Palace is a really old building, we wore metal studded boots on a concrete path that has be slowly worn down over the years. Its more of a skill not to fall over to be honest. If you do, you'll get shamed and laughed at, if you purposely did a bad job as in march in a very silly way and fuck around you could go to military prison (Thats on extreme very rare occasions).

  2. Its tradition and shows respect and discipline.

Demderdemden26 karma

Interesting, were there any cases of people getting sent to the military prison while you were there that you can talk about?

Killco_Joe54 karma

There were none when I was there but I did hear about a guy that did. I didn't know him and i'm not going to shame him by telling you dates and such.

Talbertross6 karma

What documentary is this?

ARatherStrangeFellow54 karma

Have you ever been touched by an tourist, how are you supposed to respond? How did you?

Killco_Joe115 karma

I have, they are not allowed to touch us as it can been seen as a threat. Coming to attention stops them normally.

fortalyst197 karma

It takes some solid discipline to gain an erection like that at will

Killco_Joe122 karma

Will is not that attractive.

ale201154 karma

Do you mind tourist come up to you/stand next to you and take pictures? Do most tourist behave or do they tend to tick you off?

Killco_Joe103 karma

No not at all, if its a public post then go for it! Then tend to behave, you will get the odd one trying to impress a lady friend by touching you, then you can easily scare him away.

Crazy_Wulf53 karma

If you saw any illegal activities taking place in the crowds would you be allowed to intervene/detain? For example if you saw a man start punching a women in her face in the crowd, would you still have to remain at your post or were there exceptions?

Killco_Joe91 karma

As a human being of course I would intervene, but I was there to guard the palaces and The Queen. There would be enough police to make sure an incident like that wouldn't go without him being arrested.

FacialFlagella51 karma

What was the most ridiculous thing you'd seen while on guard?

Killco_Joe97 karma

Could be when we are warned before I went out on guard at St James that some people were planning to throw cream pies at us. It didn't happen though. As for what I have seen nothing really sticks out at me.

Gickerific47 karma

I have never been to England, and I could probably figure it out by googling, but I think it would be much cooler to ask you instead--I've heard that Queen's Guards aren't allowed to smile or interact with passers by at all, but that they're supposed to remain entirely still like a statue.

First, is this at all true? Obviously you have to take your job seriously but are you not allowed to show emotion?

If that's true, were there any times where you almost lost it? What were the circumstances?

Thanks so much for doing this! Probably one of the coolest AMAs I've seen!

Killco_Joe77 karma

When I was younger and new to the job there could've been a few times when I nearly broke, but, if you've ever heard your dad say the same joke, over and over and over again. You'd have a grumpy look on your face as well.

Edit: A bot got the better of me.

Marmite_Badger45 karma

Do you like Marmite?

Killco_Joe97 karma

If its all i have left in a barren cupboard, a man has to eat.

BooYeah048442 karma

Are you obligated to salute or do anything if a higher ranked officer/enlisted person of any armed forces walks past or tries to talk to you?

Like if a US Army Major wants to shake your hand or ask you for something. Can you break your stoicism to help his request?

Killco_Joe96 karma

When we salute, we are in fact saluting the crown that is on the top of every British regiments cap badge ( The Blue Red Blue backing in the guards beret). If a US Major that wasn't a part of my command chain, then I would ignore his request. Even to shake his hand.

Mudnart33 karma

Did you ever run across this woman?

Killco_Joe117 karma

That is the biggest load of shit i've ever read.

GruevyYoh31 karma

In your response above, you talk about drill and discipline. Can you describe - other than the stoic response to asshole tourists - what else is part of the drill and discipline?

Killco_Joe60 karma

Kit, as you can see in the picture its made of brass. We have to make sure it is Brasso'd everyday, same with the brass fittings of the buff belt. The boots have to so reflective that you can visibly see you teeth in them. Then in everyday work when not on guard we make sure everything is clean tidy. That kind of thing, if its not. If its not, you get extra work. Specifically on weekends or a Friday night.

boxingdude25 karma

I feel ya there man. My dad was a drill Sargent in the US Army for several years when I was growing up. He’d teach PE in the morning, come home to shower and change during his lunch hour, then return for the rest of the day for classroom/weapons training for the rest of the day. What that meant for me was that every day, I had two pairs of boots and two sets of brass to polish every day. My sister had to iron two uniforms as well. That shit gets old after a while!

He stayed in the Army until he retired, but only spent about four years as a drill Sargent. I sure was happy when he became an MP. It meant I only had to do one set each day!

Killco_Joe21 karma

I joined the British Army at 16, I know what you went through here. Still that kind of discipline will set you up for years to come.

Sealfat2 karma

ahhh Brasso !! As a person who served in the Danish Queen's Guard I've had my fair share of experience with that, we didn't have to use it as much as it was only part of our sheathe that was made of brass. But we did use a lot of something called "kiwi" to shine our boots, sheathe and bag, man it took 100's if not a 1000 hours to polish to a suitable level in the beginning and then it had to be maintained before each guard duty every three days (where i'd spend around 6 hours on all three pieces), never again !! :D

Killco_Joe3 karma

Totally feel your pain 100's of hours spent looking at yourself in a boot also, The Danish Army seemed very well drilled and professional when I met them in on tour.

TriffidHunter22 karma

Do you have any strange/weird anecdotes you can share with us?

Killco_Joe49 karma

I met Sir Jon Major when I was in Kuwait for the 20th anniversary of of the First Gulf War and the 50th Anniversary of their independence from the UK. Also had Arnold Schwarzenegger turn up to barrack with David Cameron. Does that count?

zeperf20 karma

What do you think about for entertainment? Do you ever struggle to stay awake?

Killco_Joe11 karma

People watching is your best friend.

Fulmersbelly18 karma

How familiar are you with other armed forces’ guard units such as the tomb guard for the tomb of Thebes unknown soldier in the US? I would machine there’s a lot of mutual respect there.

Are the hats (sorry, don’t know the official term) heavy? It seems if they get wet, they would get quite difficult to deal with.

Killco_Joe35 karma

Yea, I've heard of that. I have a lot of respect for them. I'd like to meet one of them one day.

The bearskins are a bamboo cage with bear skin fur over the top. The fur itself I think is faux bear fur I think. However there are real bear fur ones worn.

They are heavy when wet, they'd need a clean after your guard is over with.

NinaTHG10 karma

Sorry if I'm being ignorant...

You have to stay completely still, right? So how don't you have cramps/pain in your legs? Is it practice? Cause if it is, how does it feels when you're starting?

Also, supposing that there's a crime happening close to you (someone is stealing a cellphone), can you move and stop it? Or that's the police duty?

Killco_Joe3 karma

It can hurt you man up through the pain, as for your second question I have already answered it.

Nochairsatwork6 karma

My sister (American) spent a summer in London in the early 2000s, she and a few of her girlfriends were taking photos with a guard and he invited them all back to...wherever it is on palace grounds that they live for dinner. She has amazing photos of the silver dinner service, her and her friends wearing the uniform etc.

How often does something like that happen? Or was that guy insane to do it?

Killco_Joe7 karma

Sounds like insanity to me.

PittsburghDM4 karma

Hey thanks for doing this and thank you for your service! Not sure if you guys get admiration for your service but I know the soldiers here in the states get the short side of the stick often so first and foremost thank you for your service.

I know the general response is you cannot move or be touched. But has there ever been a time where you had to move from your post to handle an emergency or deal with the public? or ever a situation where you had to break, for lack of better word, character and interact with a civilian?

Killco_Joe2 karma

Thank you, and mostly it was for idiot tourist that think it is was funny to climb over a fence.

Penelepillar3 karma

What’s the best beer in the world?

Killco_Joe13 karma

Guinness is a stout, but it’s all a man needs to drink.

Spikemaui213 karma

How physically uncomfortable is it standing at attention for a few hours? And are insoles a well loved product in the guard?

Killco_Joe3 karma

The insoles are thick enough to last, after a while they tend to wear away. You'd be crazy to do drill without them.

oceansandplages3 karma

What was your favourite moment in the job and why did you quit?

Killco_Joe4 karma

Proudest moment (when in ceremonial) could be after my first Trooping the colour, but during my military career coming back from Afghanistan.

I left after thinking I didn’t see myself doing it in the next five years, so I left while I was still young enough to get a new career. If anybody is thinking about joining, I’d recommend it.

DancingHorse22 karma

I've read online that the Queen's guard are mostly ceremonial, and that police do the arresting/stopping threats. Is this true? I've never seen a video or anything of a guard actually stopping a crime.

Killco_Joe4 karma

We are there for the The Queen, not to stop petty crimes. As for mostly ceremonial, I have stated that the five regiments of foot guards are all infantry units. We are trained soldiers first, I have been to Afghanistan and we are always training as soldiers.

tragic-waste-of-skin1 karma


Killco_Joe1 karma

It can do after a while, for the most part you just get used to it.

BobT211 karma

Is a "Guards" Regiment a unit that is attached to the monarch, or is there some other distinction?

Killco_Joe1 karma

There are five regiment of foot guards. Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Irish Guards, Scots Guards and Welsh Guards. We make up the Household Division in the British Army.

cfcforeverfan1 karma

When you meet the Queen or the prince, do you need to say something like 'your majesty'?

Killco_Joe2 karma

Oh course

sax6romeo1 karma

Have you ever been to Arlington cemetery's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

Killco_Joe1 karma

No I haven't, I'd like to though