South Shields RAF veteran appointed as beefeater at the Tower of London
Paul, and his new colleague Emma Rousell from Derby, have donned their famous dark blue and red uniforms for the first time as they prepare to join the ranks of the guards at the Tower of London.
Both were chosen for the prestigious role after 22 years in the Royal Air Force, earning the Good Conduct medal, and a rigorous selection process.
They join a troupe of 30 other guards at the Tower who hold the traditional, ceremonial roles as extraordinary members of the Queen’s Bodyguard.
The position of Yeoman Warder, popularly known as a beefeater, descends from the band of warders who guarded the monarch, the gates and royal prisoners – and, of course, the Crown Jewels – at fortress.
This job has somewhat changed over time, though.
The Tower no longer holds prisoners, the Royal Family moved out in the time of the Tudors, and the security systems surrounding the Crown Jewels have become much more sophisticated.
Nowadays, beefeaters' day-to-day activities include leading tours, providing lectures and posing for hundreds of selfies with eager tourists – proving to be an attraction in their own right.
There are various theories as to how the term ‘beefeater’ came about, including that they were granted the right to eat as much meat as they wanted when having a meal with the King.
The Historic Royal Palaces website explains Yeoman Warders were originally part of the Yeoman of the Guard – ‘the monarch’s personal, crack bodyguard who traveled with him everywhere’.
It was Henry VIII who apparently decided that the Tower should be protected by part of the royal bodyguard.
These ‘Yeoman Warders’ were eventually granted the right to wear the red uniform, today known as the state dress uniform, worn on state occasions such as the Queen’s birthday.
The more durable everyday dark blue ‘undress’ uniform was introduced in the 19th century.
Today’s Yeoman Warders need to have at least 22 years’ military service, reached the rank of warrant officer and possess the long service and good conduct medal.