The 4’OClock Inspection

Why are the soldiers inspected every day at 4pm? Why is it called the Punishment Parade?

Read below to find out more!

Every day at 4pm...

Every day at 4pm...

At 4pm every day in the courtyard on the Whitehall side of Horse Guards, a short ceremony takes place that brings an end to the sentry duties of the two mounted Household Cavalry in the sentry boxes.

The two troopers on horseback, along with six guards on foot, will form a line in the courtyard, where they are inspected by an officer in the regiment who will have ridden down from Knightsbridge Barracks by Hyde Park to do so. Once satisfied, the officer dismisses the troopers, ending the Mounted Guard’s duties for the day.

Informally known as the Punishment Parade, the tradition of the 4 o’clock inspection began in 1894. Queen Victoria arrived at Horse Guards, expecting to find the Household Cavalry ready and waiting to escort her back to Buckingham Palace, only to find the guards either asleep, drunk or gambling on the job! Deeply unamused by this, Victoria commanded that for the next 100 years, the guards be inspected every day at 4pm to ensure they were taking their duties seriously (hardly surprising she would wish that, given by 1894, there had been seven attempts on Victoria’s life). The century of punishment technically ended in 1994, but Queen Elizabeth II ordered the Household Cavalry to carry it on indefinitely as a regimental tradition, one that continues to this day.

Discover the Household Cavalry Museum

10am – 6pm, April to October / 10am – 5pm, November to March / Last admission 45 minutes before closing.



Wednesday – Sunday

CLOSED: Monday & Tuesday

Please note:

From the 4- 27 December 2023, the Museum will not be accessible from the main Whitehall entrance.

During this period, there will be no horses in the stables. 

For entrance to the museum, please come from Horse Guards Road via The Mall, Admiralty Arch or Westminster.
Best station exits are St James Park or Westminster.

If you have any questions about this, please call the Museum on 020 7930 3070. Thank you.