guardians of the tower of london
navy and red in undress
red and gold
the great british beefeater
The British Beefeater... Have You Encountered One?
June 29, 2007 12:58pm CST
The Yeomen Warders of the Queen's Royal Palace and the Tower of London, popularly referred to as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London. They are responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the Crown Jewels, but also act as tour guides, and have become a tourist attraction in their own right. They are not Yeoman of the Guard, as sometimes referred to... this being a distinct corps of Royal Bodyguards. There are thirty-five Yeomen Warders and one Chief Warder, all of whom are retired from the British Armed Forces of senior, non-commissioned officer rank, and with at least twenty-two years of service. They hold Long Service and Good Conduct medals. Their undress uniform is dark blue with red trimmings but when a sovereign visits the tower, and beefeaters are on duty, their uniforms are red and gold and in very similar style to those of the Yeoman of the Guard. Yeoman Warders participate in the Ceremony of the Keys each night, and also, ensure the welfare of the Ravens at the Tower of London. The Ravens are fed on raw meat or beef which is bought at Smithfield Meat Market personally, by the Ravenmaster. Legend has it that if the Ravens ever leave the tower, the Tower, the Monarchy will crumble. It is thought that this custom and legend probably started in Victorian times, when a curse was said to have been put upon the Tower and British royalty. However, the Ravens have been living there since at least the reign of King Charles II, and just in case the legend or curse are real, the ravens have their wings clipped slightly, and unevenly, in order to prevent them from flying away, as they are unable to fly in a straight line for any appreciable distance with their wings clipped in this manner. The warders maintain that the real beefeaters at the Tower are the Ravens, owing to the fact that they receive the daily ration of beef. We don't have a national dress as such, in England, but I guess the Beefeater Uniform is about as close as we come to one... for the males anyway. Have you ever encountered a British Beefeater, or Yeoman Warder and if so, what did you think of him? They strike me as very pleasant and proud fellows, always eager to satisfy your curiosity. If you haven't encountered one, would you like to, someday?