Having just returned from London, I was struck by the video below of tourists who cross the line with the famed Queen’s guard and force confrontations with these soldiers. For the most part, tourists were well mannered and respectful during my observation of the guards at Buckingham and the Tower. However, these videos show how some are incredibly rude and thoughtless.
This video shows a teenager actually touching one of the guards, which produces an immediate and daunting response.
This is unfortunately not unique as the video below demonstrates. It is particularly unfortunate that some tourists act this way because the British people and police could not be nicer or more patient with tourists. Indeed, after returning from England, we put up three young English men who were on a month long tour of the United States (largely sleeping in a tent). They were delightful and very polite. I am happy to report that they found Americans uniformly friendly and helpful. The only exception was the Capitol Hill police in Washington, D.C. I have seen this myself and heard too many complaints from other people about how the Capitol Hill police can be a bit nasty and unfriendly. I have met many very nice officers and a couple are personal friends. However, there is a problem in that force in its dealings with tourists and citizens. Too many officers are snarling and hostile at such a major tourist location. It is possible to be professional and firm without being nasty.
In England, you can see a real effort of all police to be cheerful and helpful, including in high-security areas. It makes a big difference in how your country is perceived and how people (including U.S. citizens) enjoy our landmarks. It is only when tourists cross the line that they get an earful from the Queen’s Guard.