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Global Series postcard: Stockholm columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika stumbles into changing of guard at Royal Palace

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

The soldier stopped me. He wore fatigues.

He had a gun.

I'd love to tell you it was part of an international spy drama in a picturesque European capital. But I'm no Daniel Craig, just a dumb tourist.

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning, sunny, a crisp 34 degrees. I was strolling through Gamla Stan, Stockholm's Old Town, before taking the subway to Ericsson Globe, where the Tampa Bay Lightning were going to practice at noon local time. The Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres will play in the 2019 NHL Global Series on Friday (2 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, NHL.TV) and Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, SUN, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

When I reached the Royal Palace, I stood in a courtyard, staring at the sights, oblivious to the fact that a changing of the guard ceremony was about to take place right where I was standing at 10 o'clock.

The soldier politely asked me to step back and keep my distance.

Lucky timing.

The clock struck 10, and the Royal Guards put on a little show for me, a few other passersby and some construction workers renovating the palace. They marched. One drew a sword. A group of three marched off, right behind another civilian who had no idea they were coming up from behind. (At least I wasn't alone, right?)

The whole thing lasted about five minutes. 

According to the Swedish Armed Forces website, there is a longer, more elaborate ceremony with a military marching band and parade. Generally, it is held daily from April 23-August 31 and on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays after Sept. 1.

That soldier doesn't have to worry about me getting in the way again. I'd come back Wednesday, but I'll be at Sabres practice at that time watching the changing of the lines.

Video: Changing of the Royal Guard in Stockholm

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