As every tourist knows, London's horse guards take the vow of silence on duty. As they sit majestically astride their mounts in Whitehall, children may taunt them, cameramen may pop flashbulbs in their faces, and tourist guides may speak about the guardsmen as if they were not really there. The guardsman is under orders never to move a muscle except to control his horse, never to speak except to summon a policeman or foot sentry "if something happens." For almost 300 years it has been that way.

One afternoon last week Guide John Thompson Reeves went into his usual spiel...

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