The coronavirus fires the guardians of the Tower of London: a 700-year-long tradition at risk – La Stampa


Goodbye to the guardians of the Tower of London? The coronavirus and the crisis in the tourism and cultural industries could take the place of the Beefeaters, the Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London that have been working without interruptions for over seven centuries.

Originally their job was to guard the prisoners locked inside the perimeter of the tower and protect the precious jewels of the English crown. Since the fortress on the north bank of the Thames no longer performs the functions for which it was erected, the Beefeaters have become tourist guides, as well as a folkloric attraction thanks to the evening Ceremony of the keys, a sort of changing of the guard to whom you can participate only by reservation.

But now all this is at serious risk. The Historic Royal Palaces, which oversees five sites around London and one in Northern Ireland, said that revenue has fallen by more than 85% and that it is not eligible for corporate finance from the UK government. because of its charity status. The Hampton Court Palace and Banqueting House has therefore announced that, without concrete financial aid, it will have to fire the famous Yeomen Warders.

Their salary so far had been paid by ticket sales, season tickets, events and sponsors, but the closure imposed by the pandemic has eliminated the funds, leaving the institution with little choice: to cut staff costs. Now the ball passes to the government: they will decide whether to intervene to save this tradition, which sees only former military employees. To become a Beefeater and wear the red and navy blue uniform, you must have served in the British military for at least 22 years.

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