On Easter Sunday I had the honour of being present at the Tower of London for one of three annual State Parades (the other being at Whitsun and the Sunday before Christmas) when the Yeoman Warders escort the Governor from Queen’s House in scarlet and gold State dress to the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula. An excellent Easter Day service and chocolate for the congregation on departure!
The State dress uniforms which are only worn on State occasions date from 1552 comprise a knee length scarlet tunic, breeches, stockings and a round brimmed hat called a Tudor bonnet. Queen Elizabeth I introduced the distinctive neck ruff. Their tunics display the thistle, rose and shamrock (emblems of Scotland, England and Ireland) and the initials ER (Elizabeth Regina). They are armed with a sword and partisan with the gaoler (on this occasion acting gaoler Yeoman Serjeant Bob Loughlin) carrying the ceremonial axe.
There are currently 37 Yeoman Warders residing at The Tower all of whom have served a minimum of 22 years with the Armed Forces and have received a long service and good conduct medal. They are not to be confused with the Yeomen of the Guard (whose State dress is distinguished by cross belts worn from the left shoulder). For every day dress the Yeoman Warders wear dark blue and red ‘undress’ uniform.
The Tower of London is one of the most popular heritage sites in the country attracting over 2.5 million visitors last year.
The Exhibition ‘Coins and Kings: The Royal Mint at the Tower’ opens on May 24 2013. http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/
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