By Jeff Daniels,2014-06-04 02:07
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Beefeaters and the Tower of London


     20070919 06:04 Shenzhen Daily

    The guards at the Tower of London are called Yeoman Warders or Beefeaters. They are responsible for looking after the British crown jewels.

Tower of London

    William the Conqueror and his army landed in England from France in the year 1066. In 1078 he started to build the Tower of London. Its early functions were as a fortress (堡垒), royal palace

    and a prison, but it has served as a place of execution ;处决;, an armory (军械库), a treasury, a

    zoo, a mint and -- since 1303 -- the home of the Crown Jewels.

Now, 900 years later, this famous castle is full of history and tradition.

    The Tower of London is a royal fortress, on the north banks of the River Thames.

    It has been added to over the years by the various monarchs and now contains 20 towers.

    In the center of the Tower of London is the famous White Tower, built by William the Conqueror, and is the oldest part of the fortress.

    The Tower, or Bloody Tower as it is known, has been host to many famous executions and imprisonments, including those of Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey and Sir Walter Raleigh.

Many people have been locked in the Tower, for religious beliefs or suspected treason (叛国罪).

    Famous prisoners have included Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh and Elizabeth I.

    Elizabeth I was held prisoner in the Tower for two months by the order of her half sister, Queen Mary. Mary felt that her throne (王位) was being threatened by Elizabeth, so she imprisoned her.


    Colorfully-dressed bodyguards called Yeomen Warders or Beefeaters guard the Tower of London. They used to be the monarch's private bodyguard. The name Beefeaters is thought to come from the French word - buffetier. Buffetiers were guards in the palace of French kings. They protected the king's food.

    Beefeaters were originally established in 1485 as King Henry VII's bodyguard, immediately after his victory at Bosworth. They are best known for their scarlet and gold dress uniforms which date from 1552 and are worn on state occasions.

    The Beefeaters used to guard the Tower and its prison. Today, they work mostly as guides for the 2 million visitors from around the world every year.

They are also responsible for the Tower's ravens (乌鸦) -- six coal-black birds which, according to

    legend, must always reside in the fortress.

    Ravens have lived at the Tower of London for hundreds of years. Legend has it that if the ravens ever leave, the White Tower will crumble and a great disaster shall befall England.

    A ceremonial guard is provided by the Yeomen Warders. One of their main functions is the daily Ceremony of the Keys. Every night for the last 700 years the Tower has been locked up in the Ceremony of the Keys.

    At 9:53 p.m. each night the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower, dressed in Tudor uniform, sets off to meet the Escort of the Key dressed in the Beefeater uniform. Together they tour the various gates ceremonially locking them, on returning to the Bloody Tower archway they are inquired by a sentry (哨兵).

"Who goes there?" the sentry demands.

"The Keys." answers The Chief Warder

"Whose Keys?"

"Queen Elizabeth's Keys."

"Pass Queen Elizabeth's Keys. All's well."

A trumpeter then sounds the Last Post (夜间点名) before the keys are secured in the Queen's


    As well as their duties at the Tower, Yeoman Warders also attend the coronation of the sovereign, lying in state, the Lord Mayor's Show and other state and charity functions.

The Beefeater Uniform

    There are two beefeater uniforms. The ceremonial uniform is worn for state occasions.

    This uniform consists of a knee-length scarlet coat, scarlet knee-pants and stockings, and a round brimmed hat called a Tudor bonnet. Queen Elizabeth I introduced the distinctive white neck ruff worn by the Beefeaters.

    The uniform includes the thistle, rose and shamrock, emblems of Scotland, England and Ireland. The initials ER on the Beefeaters uniforms stand for Elizabetha Regina (Regina is latin for queen). The initials refer to Elizabeth the Second, who is the present Queen.

Beefeaters are usually seen wearing the blue undress (晨衣) uniform granted to them by Queen

    Victoria in 1858.

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