LONDON - Security has been stepped up at royal guard posts in London including the sentry points on Whitehall where tourists from around the world take pictures of stern-faced guardsmen on horseback.

An armed police officer was seen next to the famous horse guards this week in what British media said was a response to recent concerns over militants.

The Mail on Sunday newspaper quoted an officer on duty at the Horse Guards Parade on Whitehall saying: “We are a recent addition here. It’s us guarding the Guards.”

Royal guards were also seen patrolling behind the gates of nearby Clarence House, the official residence of heir to the throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, instead of in front of them on a public road as before.

At St James’s Palace, where Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter Princess Anne and granddaughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie live, the guards had apparently been moved from the main gates to an inner courtyard.

British media reported that armed officers had also been deployed next to the royal guard outside Windsor Castle, another residence used by the royal family.

Contacted by AFP, the police and the defence ministry declined to comment on security matters.

Royal guards, who are soldiers in British cavalry and infantry units, are a popular tourist attraction due to their brightly-coloured uniforms, bearskin hats and gleaming helmets.

A soldier at Buckingham Palace earlier this year pointed his bayonet-fixed rifle at a member of the public after an argument erupted at the gates.

The soldier left his post to intervene when a man refused to stop shouting at a police officer manning the gates of the monarch’s London residence.

In January, a man was jailed for 16 months for trying to storm the palace armed with a knife to complain to the queen about his welfare payments.

The most serious breach at Buckingham Palace came in 1982 when unemployed man Michael Fagan got inside the queen’s private chambers while she was in bed.

Fagan, who had climbed over the palace walls and scaled a drainpipe, spent 10 minutes talking to the sovereign before she was able to raise the alarm.