Canadian Mounties Guard the Queen at Horse Guards Parade

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Royal Canadian Mounted Police acted as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II personal bodyguards on Wednesday.

In their famous red coats and wide-brimmed hats, the Mounties rode down the Mall near Buckingham Palace, and took part in the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Horse Guards Parade.

They were changing guard with the Queen's normal bodyguards or Life Guards - the Household Cavalry, who are distinctive for their navy or red cloaks, shiny helmets and long black boots.

The Life Guards have acted in this way for the Sovereign since the 17th century.

Earlier this year the Queen was made Commandant in Chief of the Canadian forces and she returned the honour by inviting the Mounties to take part in the traditional ceremony.

The invitation is part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and was a gesture first made by her grandfather King George VI in 1936.

The Mounties are acting as the Life Guards on Wednesday and Friday.

The team comprise 15 men - and for the first time, women too.

They are using the Household Cavalry's horses, not their own, which they said was the most difficult thing for them to learn to get used to.

The Canadians have also been told they must hold with the tradition of not smiling while they are standing sentry duty.

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