After 500 years, a woman joins ranks of Beefeaters

The first ever woman Beefeater will start work at the Tower of London later this year.....

The Times

January 03, 2007

After 500 years, a woman joins ranks of Beefeaters

David Sanderson

A lot of training is involved in becoming a Tower of London Beefeater

A woman has been appointed to the ranks of the Tower of London’s Yeoman Warders for the first time in their 500-year history.

The unnamed woman, who will take up her post this summer, was selected ahead of five men as one of the Tower’s tourist guides.

Historic Royal Palaces confirmed last night that it was in the process of appointing the female Yeoman Warder, adding that she had been the best candidate for the job. “It’s very exciting.

It’s great for the body of general Warders and it will be great for the Tower and its visitors,” said a spokeswoman for the charity.

The Beefeaters, or to give their full name, “Yeoman Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary”, date back to 1485. They were formed by Henry VII after his victory at the Battle of Bosworth and originally guarded prisoners and the Crown Jewels.

There have been Beefeaters at the Tower of London for over 500 years

The origin of the name Beefeater is unknown. According to Historic Royal Palaces, the most likely derivation is from the daily ration of meat they received for their duties. Records from the 19th century show that the Yeoman Guards received a daily ration of 24lb (11kg) of beef, 18lb mutton and 16lb of veal.

The Yeoman Warders, who number 38, were one of the last bastions of male-only employment. They must all be former senior NCOs from the Army, RAF or Royal Marines and have served for a minimum of 22 years. Once employed as a Beefeater, they are given a grace-and-favour apartment at the Tower.

Although known for their scarlet and gold ceremonial garb, the Yeoman Warders wear an informal blue uniform while guiding visitors around the Tower.

The spokeswoman for Historic Royal Palaces said last night that the charity would reveal the name of its new employee by the end of the month: “The Tower of London is in the process of appointing its first female Yeoman Warder. The successful candidate is currently serving in HM Forces and will join her new colleagues in the Yeoman Body at the Tower of London in summer 2007.

“Historic Royal Palaces is committed to encouraging diversity.”

On guard

The post of Yeoman Warder could be bought for 250 guineas until the Duke of Wellington ended the practice in the 1826

The Duke also abolished a minimum height requirement of 5ft 9in

A typical day starts at 6am. Tasks include posing for photographs with tourists and reciting the history of the Tower

One important duty is to check on the ravens. Charles II decreed that there must always be six at the Tower. The current ravens are called Hardey, Thor, Odin, Gwyllum, Cedric, Hugine and Munin. Acoording to legend, if the ravens ever left the Tower of London then disaster could befall England

Source: Tower of London; Times Database
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 3rd, 2007 at 05:58 AM..
I guess they will have to change the gin bottle now???

If a women is strong enough to do the job..what else matters...the same with shouldn't change strength or height requirements to be inclusive, but rather if you fit the requirements, who cares what sex, race, or colour you are???

Again it's when the either change requirements, allow variations to the uniform or exclude from certain duties that drive me around the bend..
L Gilbert
So which one of those pics is her pic?
Quote: Originally Posted by L GilbertView Post

So which one of those pics is her pic?

Probably all of em!!!!..........bit like the birds down my way!!!..

sorry, I mean women down my way in most non-Dick Van Dyke way me old mucker!!.
How many women want to be a Beefeater? It's historic that a women is one. Do allot of women want to be Tower Guards?
L Gilbert
I know a lotta firefighters squawked about women joining our ranks, but my position was that I don't give a damn who joins as long as they can do the job.
Um, just wondering who'd storm the Tower of London anyway that it needs guards? And how'd they expect to not get caught even if they did manage it?
If she is a senior nco with 22 years of service in Her Majesty's armed forces she is competent enough for any job a man can do.
Beefeaters are angry that a woman has got the job...

Wrath of the Beefeaters after a woman is appointed to their ranks

3rd January 2007

A bit hot under the collar about a woman joining their ranks

For more than 500 years, it has been a man's life in the Beefeaters.

While chomping on sirloin, wearing funny outfits and guarding the Crown Jewels, the Yeoman Warders have proudly maintained their tradition as one of the last preserves of masculinity.

This year, however, an unwelcome wind of change will blow through the Tower of London after the decision to appoint the first female Beefeater in history.

The unnamed senior NCO in the Armed Forces beat five men to the job and will commence her duties in the summer.

So are her new colleagues celebrating? Not on your life.

Staff at the Tower revealed yesterday that the woman's impending arrival has caused deep dissatisfaction and there are mutterings about sacrificing tradition on the altar of political correctness.

One member of staff, who wished to remain unnamed for fear of losing his position, said:

"It's ruffled more than few feathers. The guards aren't happy that a woman will join them. There was uproar when she was first interviewed a few months ago."

Though Beefeaters on duty declined to comment directly on the appointment yesterday, many pointedly refused to welcome the news.

While civilian female staff have worked in the Tower as warders for years, none has been allowed to join the distinctive Yeomen who patrol daily, acting as tourist guides.

Officials at the Tower insisted yesterday that they had chosen the woman because she was "simply the best candidate".

A spokesman for the Historic Royal Palaces said that the new recruit was yet to sign her contract, but she had accepted the position informally and they hoped to be able to set a start date at the end of the week.

All 35 Beefeaters must be former senior NCOs from the Army, RAF or Royal Marines.

They need to have served Queen and Country for a minimum 22 years and must hold long-service and good-conduct medals.

The lady recruit will be paid 20,000 a year and enjoy perks including a subsidised apartment in the Tower, plus tips.

Other female staff have welcomed the change. One warder in the White Tower said: "They've had it coming to them. They have been fighting this for years now because they didn't believe it was a woman's job.

"I think that it's great that a woman has succeeded in breaking through their ranks - it's high time. Women are allowed to work everywhere else in the Tower."

Beefeaters date back to 1485, when Henry VII formed a bodyguard after his victory in Bosworth, and are thought to have got their name from their generous daily ration of meat.

Recruits must learn the Tower's history by heart to answer questions posed by two million visitors a year.
Quote: Originally Posted by L GilbertView Post

I know a lotta firefighters squawked about women joining our ranks, but my position was that I don't give a damn who joins as long as they can do the job.
Um, just wondering who'd storm the Tower of London anyway that it needs guards? And how'd they expect to not get caught even if they did manage it?

The Beefeaters guard the Crown Jewels, the world's most expensive jewellery collection, which are kept in the Tower. They are also supposed to guard any prisoners that are kept in the Tower. But the "guarding of prisoners" is now just symbolic. Their main job is to act as tourist guides.

A Beefeater in everyday undress uniform

Yeoman Warder

The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, popularly known as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London (external - login to view). In principle they are responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels (external - login to view), but in practice they act as tour guides and are a tourist attraction in their own right.

There are 36 Yeomen Warders. All warders are retired from the British armed forces and must have at least 22 years of service with good conduct, at the rank of, or equivalent to, Sergeant Major (external - login to view) or above. Until 2007 there had been no female in the 522 year history. There is now one female and 35 males.[1] (external - login to view)

The Yeomen Warders are often incorrectly referred to as Yeomen of the Guard (external - login to view), which is actually a distinct corps of Royal Bodyguards. W. S. Gilbert (external - login to view) shared this confusion by naming his operetta The Yeomen of the Guard (external - login to view) when it appears to be about Yeomen Warders.

The Yeomen Warders normally wear an 'undress' uniform of dark blue with red trimmings. When the sovereign visits the tower, or the warders are on duty at a state occasion, they wear red and gold uniforms very similar to those of the Yeoman of the Guard.

The origin of the term 'Beefeater' is unclear. It may originate from the fact that early Warders were paid in beef (external - login to view), amongst other things. Count Cosimo, grand duke of Tuscany (external - login to view), visited the Tower in 1669 (external - login to view) and commented on this "A very large ration of beef is given to them daily at court...that they might be called Beef-eaters" and earlier references can also be found. Other suggestions include that it was either a corruption of a French term buffetier, an archaic term for the guard of the king's food; or a derogatory term used when they were relatively well-fed at the side of many ordinary people who lived near them in London (external - login to view).

The warders themselves often comment that the "real beefeaters" at the Tower of London are the ravens (external - login to view), which receive a daily ration of beef. There has been an aerie (external - login to view) of ravens kept at the Tower since before the time of Henry VIII (external - login to view), their purpose being to pluck the eyes from the heads of executed criminals after they are hung on display.

On January 3, 2007 it was announced that the first female Beefeater in 522 years will be appointed to guard the Tower. She will join the 35-strong guard in September after undergoing training.

The term "beefeater" is also used to refer to the traditional headgear (external - login to view) of the Yeomen Warders.

Beefeater gin (external - login to view) is a brand of gin (external - login to view) produced in the U.K. (external - login to view) and depicting a Yeoman Warder on its label.
Quote: Originally Posted by L GilbertView Post

So which one of those pics is her pic?

If you want to see her, here she is......

Meet Moira the Beefeater

Chief Reporter
January 04, 2007

Making history ... Moira in Army uniform

THIS is the auburn-haired soldier who is becoming the Tower of London’s first female Beefeater.

Pals said bachelor girl Moira Cameron, 38, was “ecstatic” about the appointment.

And they told how she had been determined to carve out a little piece of history.

In fact, she was so keen to join the 522-year-old Yeoman Warders that she prepared for her interview by touring the Tower in secret despite having an injured arm in plaster.

A close Army friend said: “She loves all the royal history and the culture that the Tower represents. But her primary motive in applying for the job was that she wanted to make history. That’s the kind of girl she is.”

Mock-up ... how Moira will look
guarding Tower of London

Born in Argyll, Moira joined the Army at 16 and repeatedly earned promotion before making WO2 — the second highest NCO rank — as a chief clerk at the Adjutant General’s Corps in Aldershot, Hampshire.

Yesterday’s Sun revealed how she beat five male candidates and will take up her 24,000-a-year post in September, replacing a retiring Beefeater. She has yet to be measured for her 1,000 uniform and has to learn by heart the Tower’s history.

Last night her proud mum Eva, 72, of Lochgilphead, said: “She has worked really hard and I am delighted for her. It is wonderful that she has managed to create a bit of history.”

Moria, 5ft 9ins with shoulder-length hair, told old mates on the Friends Reunited website that she was “single, no kids and I have never felt the urge to wear comfortable shoes”.

Tower insiders said some of the 35 male Beefeaters were not totally happy with the move. One said: “They take the view we should maintain tradition and not make history.

“She sounds a great girl but it is going to feel distinctly odd having a woman amongst us.”

However, a Tower official said: “We have had other women candidates before but none was up to the job. It is quite clear that Moira is.”

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