For over five hundred years, the Beefeaters, or properly Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London have not had to worry about cuts, except those done to prisoners by royal executioners, but now their jobs are facing the axe.
Historic Royal Palaces, which manages the millenium-old Tower as well as a number of other royal sites, says it has lost four months of revenue and doesn't expect tourism to fully recover for several years. The Beefeaters, who live with their families in apartments within the Tower compound, have been told that if not enough volunteer to go, there will be compulsory layoffs.
The Warders, who are all retired military personnel, perform ceremonial functions, act as tour guides and also serve as security at the Tower, whose exhibits include Britain's Crown Jewels. There are currently thirty-seven of them.
The Tower's first fortifications were built by William the Conqueror in 1066, just after he took power, The Yeoman Warders were begun in 1485 by Henry VII as a personal guard; his son Henry VIII added the responsibility of guarding the Tower.
Photo: Beefeater giving Tower tour (PHeymont/TravelGumbo)