Who IS this man at the Tower of London?


Beefeater

Who is this man? Well, you might know him as a ‘Beefeater’ (from their rations of beef in the 15th century), but his actual title is a ‘Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty’s Palace and Fortress the Tower of London and Member of the Sovereign’s Bodyguard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary ‘. A big title for a prestigeous job. Their origins stretch back as far as the reign of Edward IV (1461-83).Yeoman Warders have guarded the Crown Jewels and the Tower itself, as well as looking after (theoretically, in modern times) any prisoners of the Crown lodged there.

Their ‘undress uniform’ is seen here; it has many Tudor touches (if you ignore the two-way radio), including the full-cut frock coat, which, when coupled with modern trousers looks exceedingly odd. On ceremonial ocassions, they wear a glorious red and gold dress uniform – and yes, red tights, a white ruff and buckled shoes!

There are only 35 Yeoman Warders, as well as a Chief Warder. Moira Cameron, a former Warrent Officer in the Army has become the very first female Warder, and will perform the ‘tour guide’ portion of her job, as well as the more ceremonial part of a Yeoman Warden’s duties. All Warders must be senior NCOs of the Army, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Marines and more recently, the Royal Navy, with at least 22 years of impeccable service.  Oh yes, and what about the ravens, you say? Well, they have their wings partially clipped so they will not be able to fly from the Tower (legend says it will fall if they leave), and THEY actually are fed beef!

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