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Beefeaters at the Tower of London

Updated: January 5, 2023
 By Margaret

In this post, we explain who the Beefeaters are, some of their history, as well as how to see them at the Tower of London.


No visit to the Tower of London would be complete without seeing a "Beefeater", officially known as a Yeoman Warder of His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, Member of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary.

The Beefeaters are often confused with ‘Yeomen of the Guard', a distinctly different corps of Royal Bodyguards.

Becoming a Yeoman Warder is not easy. At present, there are 37 Yeomen Warders at the Tower of London.

A candidate must have at least 22 years of service in the Armed Forces.

In addition to the length of service, all Yeomen Warders must also have been awarded the ‘Long Service and Good Conduct’ medal during their time in the armed forces.

You can also check out the Yeomen Warders' webpage on the official website of the British Monarchy.


Nobody knows for sure.

The most popular speculation is that the term originated from the fact that the Yeomen of the Guard were allowed to eat as much beef as they liked from the King’s table.

‘Beefeater’ eventually became a term used to distinguish between the Body Guard at the Tower of London, and the Royal Bodyguards working in other locations.

Yeomen Warders have been in service at the Tower of London since 1485 when the corps were formed by King Henry VII, although their origins date back even further.

Traditionally Beefeaters had been men. But Moira Cameron of Argyll, Scotland made history when she became the first female Yeoman Warder ever in 2007.

Today, there are three women on the team!

The job of Beefeater has its’ perks, of course; Yeomen Warders have the unique privilege of being able to live in the Tower!

A portion of their salaries is given over as rent and many of the apartments in the Tower date from the 13th century.

Although an interesting place to live, the wife of one Beefeater says it’s impossible to order a pizza to be delivered to the Tower because nobody ever believes that is where they live!


Just seeing the Yeomen Warders can be exciting enough, but to get a true Tower of London experience, join along on a tour of the Tower of London led by one of the Beefeaters themselves!

The tours are of no additional cost on top of your admission ticket, and joining a Beefeater tour is the only way to get admission into the church in the Tower – St. Peter ad Vincula.

Entertaining, engaging, and charming, nobody knows more about the Tower than the Yeoman Warders and since tours leave every 30 minutes, you’ve got no excuse to miss it! 

Be sure to read our post on what's inside of the Tower of London.


About The Author


An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries. Read More...
Updated: January 5th, 2023
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