The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

9 July 2007

Have some beef and don't crack a smile

In 1485, the Tower of London was first surrounded by Yeomen Warders, whose functions included looking after any prisoners in the Tower and keeping an eye on the Crown Jewels.

The Warders (there are thirty-six of them, one of whom is designated Chief) all come from the ranks of the Royal Armed Forces, where they served with distinction for at least twenty-two years. For the first 522 years, they were all men.

Not anymore:

[S]oon Moira Cameron will be resplendent in the traditional scarlet and blue livery of the Beefeater when she makes history as the first woman to join the oldest corps in the world.

The 42-year-old from Argyll, Scotland, beat five men to secure the post as a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London, and yesterday she said she could not wait to start in the summer.

The admission of a woman into the ranks of the Beefeaters did not sit well with some traditionalists:

John from Tendring has said: "That's 500+ years of tradition gone and a large tailors bill to show for it." Rose Howard from Milton Keynes also thinks Moira is ruining tradition: "Just does not look right, why can't we hang on to our traditions, what is the point of this 'updating' ... because they can ... but whenever did a woman fit into the history of the Beefeaters at the Tower. That is what it is all about, it's not an ordinary day job."

Then again, she paid the same dues as the men at the Tower, served the Crown just as long, just as honorably. I really don't see why this would be an issue, unless they're worried about whether she has the capacity to behead someone, a one-time duty of the Warders that has long since fallen into desuetude. (There have been no prisoners held at the Tower for half a century, and no executions since 1941, when German spy Josef Jakobs faced, not the mighty blade, but a firing squad.)

Posted at 12:22 PM to Almost Yogurt