Mme. Beefeater

From the

Tower of London gets first female Beefeater

Staff and agencies
Monday September 3, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

It may have taken over 500 years for feminism to breach the walls of the Tower of London, but visitors to the fortress are today being greeted by the first female Beefeater since the guards were established.
Moira Cameron, a 38-year-old from Argyll, Scotland, will serve as one of the Yeoman Warders, the body that protects the crown jewels. She will don the traditional blue-and-scarlet livery for her duties, which begin with opening the Beauchamp Tower and the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

Ms Cameron has spent the past two months training intensively to learn the 21 separate duties the Beefeaters perform each day, and the ceremony of the keys. She was also required to become well versed in the history of the tower so that she can lead guided tours.
Ms Cameron is a warrant officer class two who joined the army at the age of 16. She was selected over five men who also applied for the vacancy.

Candidates must have been a warrant officer or senior noncommissioned officer, have served at least 22 years in the army, Royal Air Force or Royal Marines, and hold the medal for long service and good conduct.

As well as her salary, of around £20,000, Ms Cameron will have the use of a subsidised apartment in the tower itself.

On a day-to-day basis, she will wear the dark blue “undress uniform”, saving the £3,500 red-and-gold costume for special occasions.

The tower’s Yeoman Warders date back to 1485. They are thought to owe their nickname Beefeaters to the daily ration of meat they received.

There are 35 Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London, plus the Chief Yeoman Warder and Yeoman Gaoler.

Their full title is Yeoman Warder 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.

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