The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal
Palace and Fortress the Tower of London,
popularly known as the
are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of
London. In principle they are responsible
for looking after any prisoners at the Tower
and safeguarding the British crown jewels,
but in practice they act as tour guides
and are a tourist attraction in their own
There are 36 Yeomen Warders. All
warders are retired from the British armed
forces and must have at least 22 years of
service with good conduct, at the rank of,
or equivalent to, Sergeant Major or above.
The Yeomen Warders are often incorrectly
referred to as Yeomen of the Guard, which
is actually a distinct corps of Royal Bodyguards.
Gilbert and Sullivan shared this confusion
by naming their operetta The Yeomen of the
Guard when it appears to be about Yeomen
The Yeomen Warders normally wear an 'undress'
uniform of dark blue with red trimmings.
When the sovereign visits the tower, or
the warders are on duty at a state occasion,
they wear red and gold uniforms very similar
to those of the Yeoman of the Guard.
The origin of the term 'Beefeater' is
unclear. It may originate from the fact
that early Warders were paid in beef, amongst
other things. Count Cosimo, grand duke of
Tuscany, visited the Tower in 1669 and commented
on this "A very large ration of
beef is given to them daily at court...that
they might be called Beef-eaters"
and earlier references can also be found.
Other suggestions include that it was either,
a corruption of a French term buffetier
an archaic term for the guard of the king's
food, or, a derogatory term used when they
were relatively well fed at the side of
many ordinary people who lived near them
in London. The warders themselves often
comment that the "real beefeaters"
at the Tower of London are the ravens, which
receive a daily ration of beef.
The term "beefeater" is also
used to refer to the traditional
of the Yeoman Warders.
Beefeater gin is a brand of gin produced
in the U.K..
This article incorporates text from
1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.