The main role of the Istana Ceremonial Guards is sentry duty at the Istana Main Entrance along Orchard Road and at the entrance of the Istana Building.
A platoon of 20 guards from Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command would perform duties in the Istana for one month before another unit takes over. The take-over by a new unit is signified by the Changing of Guards Ceremony.
Changing of Guards Ceremony
When the late Encik Yusof Bin Ishak took office as the Yang Di-Pertuan Negara at the Istana on 3 December 1959, the Istana was guarded by combat troops from the only infantry regiment we had at that time – the 1st Battalion of the Singapore Infantry Regiment. The guards were posted round the clock. There was no Changing of Guards Ceremony. Mounting and dismounting of guards were done within the Istana itself.
The use of combat troops to guard the Istana ceased in 1968 with the formation of the Singapore Armed Forces Guards Unit (SAFGU). In 1969, it was decided that a Changing of Guards Ceremony be held on every first Sunday evening of the month. The Ceremony was held in 1969 and has continued ever since. However, the ceremony will not be held in the months of July and August.
The format of the Ceremony is based on the British Changing of Guards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace, England. Thirty-six Guards and two Guard Commanders are involved in the Ceremony. The Guards are specially selected and trained for their turnout, bearing and drill.
The in-coming Guards march from Koek Road (beside OG Orchard Point) to meet the out-going Guards at the main entrance of the Istana. The Changing of the Guards Ceremony is then carried out at the entrance of the Istana with military bands in attendance. Included in the ceremony is a Rifle Precision Drill Performance.
Schedule for 2017
Sunday, 8 January 2017
Sunday, 5 February 2017
Sunday, 5 March 2017
Sunday, 2 April 2017
Sunday, 7 May 2017*
Sunday, 4 June 2017*
Sunday, 3 September 2017
Sunday, 1 October 2017
Sunday, 5 November 2017
Sunday, 3 December 2017
Dates may be subject to changes.
*There will be no Silent Precision Drill Squad (SPDS) component for the Changing of Guard (COG) on 7 May and 4 June.
The guards start marching from the starting point at approximately 15 minutes to 6pm.