A real “changing of the guard”

Recently I witnessed the ceremonial changing of the guard in Monaco. You can see such ceremonies lots of places, and it always amazes me how much attention they attract and how people like to get pictures (and yes, I took some as well).

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A few days before that in Prague, I didn’t catch the changing of the guard happen, but I saw them at the castle, standing before their little guard huts with their rifles. I don’t even know if they’re real guns, but I know this for sure: the guy in fatigues nearby was the real deal. He’s not standing at attention in front of a hut. He’s not getting his picture taken with tourists. He’s pacing with his weapon, looking all around, watching everything.

Today I saw a real, non-ceremonial changing of the guard just down the street from our apartment.

Ever since we’ve been here, there’s been a police van parked in front of an apartment building a few blocks away; the kids and I call it “the stakeout.” We even use it as a point of reference: to get to the fencing gym, head down the street and take a right just past the stakeout…

We noticed the stakeout right away when we got here last summer, and it quickly became clear that they weren’t leaving. Ever. Now, we know it’s not an actual stakeout; our best guess is that someone important lives in the building. A foreign diplomat perhaps. But whatever the reason, the police van is always there, and there are always guards on the sidewalk, or in the doorway, or sometimes just sitting in the van with the side door open. And always with guns.

Today as I walked by, I saw one of the guys hand his rifle over to one of the women that was apparently coming on shift. No ceremony. No strutting around. And certainly no posing for pictures.

The stakeout continues.

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