The Yeoman Warders are a very select group of military guards, who are the ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London. They are nicknamed ‘The Beefeaters’, which probably originates from their food ration of meat, back in the 15th century. The Yeoman Warders have existed since 1485.
Originally, the Beefeaters job was to guard the prisoners kept in the Tower and the Crown Jewels – the valuable collection of royal jewellery and regalia which includes the crowns worn by the monarch at their coronation.
However, these days the Tower of London is a tourist attraction, not a working prison, and the Beefeaters are tour guides and a tourist attraction themselves.
In order to become a Yeoman Warder, a person must have retired after serving at least 22 years in the armed forces. They must also have achieved various military medals.
The Beefeaters live in accommodation inside the Tower. They wear a special navy and red uniform which is valued at over £1000 (15,000RMB), and have another dress uniform valued at over £3000 (45,000RMB) for special events involving the King or Queen.
On 3rd September, the first female Beefeater took up her duties. Moira Cameron beat five male candidates for the job, which was awarded on merit. The Chief Yeoman Warder John Keohane said that this appointment reflected the important role of women in the armed forces these days.
Moira said that she was used to working in a male-orientated environment after her 22 years in the forces. However, she admitted that the uniform large pockets are perfect for carrying a lipstick and mirror!
As part of her training for the job, she will learn all about the Tower of London’s 900-year history.
She described becoming a Beefeater as “a great privilege” and “a wonderful job”.