Beefeater Rob Fuller, the Chief Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London, takes us through a typical day at his historic home and place of work
Editor’s note*: At the time of this interview Rob was Yeoman Gaoler, he has since been promoted to Chief Yeoman Warder!
A day in the life of a Beefeater
7am: I am up and about early each morning and begin my day (how else?) with a cup of tea. Like my fellow Yeoman Warders – or ‘Beefeaters’ – I live inside the Tower itself, so it’s a short commute to the office. I work in a rather grand 12th-century office overlooking the dry moat. Once at my desk, my first priority is to iron out any problems that may have occurred during the night shift.
Notice something about Rob’s uniform? This photo was taken before the Coronation of King Charles III. All Yeoman Warders now have new uniforms bearing the King’s cipher!
8.30am: Once all the pre-opening checks have been done, either I or the Duty Yeoman Warder will unlock the Tower of London’s gates, accompanied by a military escort, in a formal ritual known as the ‘Opening Ceremony’. My favourite part of the day is just prior
to the ceremony, as it’s when the Tower seems to be at its quietest – perhaps because our famous ravens have just had their breakfast!
9am: The Tower is ready to welcome visitors, and for me, it’s back to the desk to catch up on emails. With the day in full swing, I usually check in on other members of the team on duty throughout their shift. I’m the second in command, responsible for the management of the rest of the Yeoman Body – we currently have 35 Beefeaters in all.
12pm: I stretch my legs with a walk around the Tower, greeting visitors as I go. The most rewarding part of my job as a Beefeater is undoubtedly meeting folk from all over the world. I love being able to make a difference to their experience by stopping to have a chat or just having a photo with them as a memory of their trip to the Tower.
5pm: Despite the routine you would imagine that being a working fortress involves, no two days at the Tower of London are ever the same. As well as welcoming visitors during the day, the Tower is a popular event space after hours, with up to 25 dinners, receptions and even weddings happening each month.
7pm: Inevitably, I spend a lot of my time at the Tower, but in my free time, I like to make use of my season ticket to Stamford Bridge, taking my son to watch Chelsea play football. My wife and I love art and visit galleries whenever we can, and we both adore a night at the theatre.
9.53pm: I conduct the Ceremony of the Keys, a closing ceremony that has taken place every night at the Tower of London for at least 700 years. Other duties include State Parades and the ancient ceremony of the ‘Constable’s Dues’. The Yeoman Gaoler was historically in charge of prisoners at the Tower – overseeing the care and confinement of royalty, rebels and reprobates – and in recognition of this I still carry the infamous axe (pictured in the first image) during ceremonial occasions.
10:30pm: Once I’ve finished up, I like to end my day in my favourite chair in our flat, with a sneaky gin and tonic in hand. As a thank you from Beefeater Gin – whose bottles feature a picture of a Yeoman Warder in full state dress – we get sent a bottle on our birthdays, which is always a real treat!
The Tower of London is open daily.
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