I got up early to make sure to take advantage of the breakfast part of my Bed & Breakfast. I won't make that mistake again. I didn't think I was a finicky eater, and everyone else seemed happy with the selection - so I'm sure it was me. I pushed the food around my plate for a few minutes - I didn't want to be rude, I ate toast and drank the coffee and headed off. I wanted to make sure that I got to Buckingham Palace in time to see the Changing of the Guard Parade. Next I took a Double Decker bus tour - because when in London you just have to. We had a great guide. She told us a funny story about the queen.
A few years back Palace security was pretty lax. One morning a man named Fagan climbed the wall of the palace and made it all the way to the Queen's bedroom. She woke up to find this strange man standing over her smiling. He just wanted to chat so the Queen, with no alternative, talked to him for more than 30 minutes hoping someone would come to her rescue. No one did. The sole reason that he was finally caught is because he had the gall to ask the queen if she had a cigarette that he could smoke. She was then able to pick up the phone and tell her staff to bring her a cigarette. An odd request since the queen doesn't smoke. So 2 armed guards were sent instead, one of them carrying a silver tray with a cigarette, just in case she really wanted a smoke. Fagan was put in a mental institution for 5 years. The first thing he did when he was released was try to break into the palace. Security is much better now.
Fun facts from my tour:
- It took 2 men 30 hours to wind the Big Ben for the first time.
- Big Ben is not the clock, but the bell inside the clock.
- Prince Charles has the right to change his name to anything he wants when he becomes King. Because the title 'King Charles' has all sorts of historic tragedy associated with it - Charles I was executed, Charles II had at least 14 illegitimate children. When Charles is crowned he will become 'King George'
- The old London bridge was bought by an American. he shipped it over and reassembled it in Lake Havasu AZ.
Yes, even in London there is a Starbucks on every corner.