Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

A Bird At The Tower: Britain’s First Female Beefeater

Can Female Beefeater Guard Crown Jewels And Greet Tourists?
London Tower’s Famous Beefeater Guards Admit First Female to their Ranks

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Can she handle the beef?

Britain has had female queens and a female prime minister but is Britain ready for a female Beefeater?

The Tower of London has a new Beefeater guard and it’s a woman, the first ever. Plus she’s reportedly frightened of ravens; a problem since ravens are a protected commodity at her new work place.

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The Tower of London In The Morning Mist

Moira Cameron, hailing from Argyll, Scotland is the first woman ever to be chosen as Beefeater. She beat five other male candidates for the position. Two women have applied for position in the past but Cameron was the first to be successful.

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One Of The Tower’s Beefeater Yeoman Warders

The Beefeaters have been guarding the Tower of London since the late 15th Century. Their official title is the Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London. They were first established by Henry VII shortly after he relieved Richard III of the crown at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Theirs was the task to protect the illustrious Crown Jewels and guard the number of high profile prisoners who spent time at the Tower and sometimes were executed on nearby Tower Hill.

The origin of the word “beefeater” is unknown. Some theories say the term comes from the ration of beef the Yeoman Warders received. Recent theories suggest the word beefeater is derogatory term by Londoners who thought the guards were a little too pampered.

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The White Tower Keep

Two hundred years ago records show that the Yeoman Warders received a daily ration of 24 pounds of beef, 18 pounds of mutton, and 16 pounds of veal. Obviously the beefeaters must have divided this large amount amongst their family and close friends. One should hope at least or otherwise prisoners of the Tower could have easily escaped knowing that no guard would be able to chase them down without suffering a massive heart attack.

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The Legendary Ravens Of The Tower Whose Very Presence Keeps The Monarchy Stable

Nowadays, Yeoman Warders face the grim, daunting task of greeting millions of tourists every year with historical insights and personal anecdotes whilst cracking quips and puns to the amusement or horror of their gathered audience.

To be considered for the position of Yeoman Warder, a candidate must have at least 22 years of military service and have reached the rank of a senior NCO (non-commissioned officer) with a good service record. Warders must learn the history of the Tower by heart particularly the bloody and ghostly bits which are always favorites with visitors.

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A Beefeater Carries Out The Ardous Task Of Informing And Entertaining Visitors

Yeoman Warders receive a yearly salary of 20,000 British Pounds, rented accommodations within the Tower, and a blue uniform with red trimmings for most duty days and red and gold one for special occasions such as when the monarch is visiting.

There are currently over thirty Yeoman Warders including the Chief Yeoman Warder, the Yeoman Gaoler who was once in charge of the Tower’s prisoners, and the Ravenmaster. The Ravenmaster has the all important responsibility of looking after the clipped-winged ravens who protect the British monarchy by simply never leaving the Tower.

Moira Cameron’s appointment has not been met with entirely wide open arms from people or Yeoman Warders. According to some reports, a number British citizens and Yeoman Warders are not pleased with the breaking of tradition by admitting a woman into their ranks. Apparently a woman can serve Britain in the armed forces, rule as Queen, and govern as Prime Minister but is somehow unsuitable to wear a blue or red frock and a puffy hat while chatting up the millions of visitors that drop by every year.

Cameron will take up her duties in September after swearing-in speech ceremony that dates back to the mid-14th Century.

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A Potential New Recruit?

January 18, 2007 - Posted by | beefeater, Blogroll, England, life, moira cameron, news, tower of london, travel, UK, yeoman warder

1 Comment »

  1. I should mention all the pics are mine from my October Trip except for the pic of Moira Cameron which comes from Reuters. The punny caption is mine though I’m afraid.

    Comment by samuraidave | January 18, 2007 | Reply


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