There are some things
that only England at it’s finest can achieve, one of them is the pomp and
splendour of an event at Buckingham Palace. Such an event would not be right or
seemly if the Queen's Body Guard of the
Yeomen of the Guard where not present.
The oldest British
military corps is still in existence, it was created by Henry
VII in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth
Field. As a token of this
venerability, the Yeomen still wear red and gold uniforms of Tudor style.
Recruitment to the Yeomen of The Guard until 1823 was by
purchase and the majority of The Guard were civilian. From 1830 candidates must
have served in the Army or Royal Marines. In 1955 the first Royal Air Force
candidate was accepted and two currently serve. Until 2011 members of the Royal
Navy were excluded from becoming Yeomen due to their tradition of not swearing
allegiance to The Queen (they swear to the Admiralty); this has now changed and
two have been sworn-in. There is a very long list of those seeking entry to this
exclusive and venerable “Body Guard”. Successive monarchs have confirmed rules
for the selection of suitable candidates, some emphasising that candidates
should be 'of tall personage, strong, active and
of manlie presence' (in Queen Victoria's reign this included the mandatory
wearing of a beard)'.
Today candidates must have completed no less than twenty two years in the
Army, Royal Marines, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force, with distinction, attained
the rank of at least Sergeant or Chief Petty Officer and awarded the Long
Service and Good Conduct Medal. All Yeomen must retire at the ripe old age of
seventy, if only to give others a chance of joining. During Queen Victoria's
reign there was a minimum height restriction of five feet ten inches but since
Edward VII's reign this restriction has but been disregarded. Edward VII is
anecdotally attributed as saying 'if he's tall enough to fight for his country,
he's tall enough to be one of my body guard' . Currently, a candidate should be
no older than fifty five years on the day of taking the Loyal Oath but this is
being reviewed. However, as previously stated, there is a very long list of
candidates and limited places. It should be stressed that Servicewomen are not
excluded from applying for an appointment to The Body Guard or Yeoman Warders.
The role of the Captain of the
Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard is a political appointment - the Captain is always the government
Whip in the House of
The Yeomen of the Guard
have a purely ceremonial role. They accompany the Sovereign at the annual
Service, investitures and summer
Garden Parties at Buckingham
Palace and other Royal occasions.
However, their most famous duty is to 'ceremonially' search the cellars of the
Westminster prior to the State Opening of
Parliament, a tradition that dates
back to the Gunpowder
Plot of 1605, when Guy
Fawkes attempted to blow up
Parliament. (Today, officers from the Metropolitan
Police carry out the actual search.)
In the eighteenth century
some forty Yeomen were on duty daily and twenty at night. This only ceased in
1813, and thereafter only one division was required daily until about 1837.
Today they are only mustered when required – each serve an average of six to
eight days a year.
All Yeomen are over forty
two years of age on appointment and under fifty five years. They retire at
seventy and are no
longer are called for service. There are an average of four vacancies a year,
which are filled by the Lord
Chamberlain, who recommends the names
to the Sovereign.
The dress worn by the
Yeomen of the Guard is in its most striking characteristics the same as it
was. It consists of
a royal red tunic with purple facings and stripes and gold lace ornaments,
together with a red cross-belt, red knee-breeches and red stockings, flat hat,
and black shoes with red, white and blue rosettes are worn. The gold-embroidered
emblems on the back and front of the coats consist of the crowned Tudor
Rose, the shamrock and the thistle, the motto
"Dieu et mon
droit" (God and My Right), and the
"regal" initial of the reigning sovereign (currently ER for "Elizabeth Regina").
It is the red cross-belt that distinguishes the Yeomen of the Guard from the
Warders. When “suited and booted” the outfit weighs twenty four
The Senior Messenger
Sergeant Major and Wardrobe Keeper lives in a house in St James's
Palace, where he is responsible for HQ
administration, and correspondence. The Messenger Sergeant Major is his deputy.
There are four divisions, First, Second, Third and Fourth. Each has a Divisional
Sergeant Major, Yeoman Bed Goer, Yeoman Bed Hanger and thirteen
The Yeomen of the Guard
are often confused with the Yeomen
Warders of the Tower of
London, popularly known as "Beefeaters", a similar but
distinct body. Gilbert and Sullivan appeared to share this confusion when they
wrote their operetta.
On the 29th of
April 2009; more than seventy Yeomen - resplendent in their distinctive red and
gold tunics, large white ruffled collars, scarlet stockings and flat brimmed
black Tudor hats - gathered in Westminster Abbey in tribute to King Henry VII,
to mark the 500th anniversary of his death, the Queen placed a posy at his tomb
in the Abbey's Lady Chapel.
The monarch and the Duke
of Edinburgh sat for a group photograph with the entire corps of Yeomen in the
Nave, and met with them after the service.The Duke took the opportunity to
mention their striking red hosiery.
Lieutenant of the Body
Guard Major Charles Enderby said: "Prince Philip had lots of jokes about the
what we would expect from the man we know and
"The Queen was very
grateful. We've been on the go for a long time. We're the first bodyguard any
monarch ever had and we're the oldest military corps."
Well as of now they have
a RED in their midst (Retired and Extremely Dangerous is the film title or
should that be Roger Extremely Dedicated). He was nominated by “Scouse” and,
from start of the process to taking the Oath took five years.
Credentials Roger has in
spades. Roger served in the Royal Marines for over twenty eight years and “put
one or two right” as Corps RSM. He broke “one or two” bones playing rugby for
the Corps. He is not just our son-in-laws dad, he is a dear and special friend
and no trip to the UK would be complete without a quick nip up to North Devon.
then Regimental Sergeant Major
bestowed in 1998.
Roger as Corps
RSM seen sitting to the left (our right) of the Duke of
Roger and Sue – here seen ‘Palace ready’, for a Garden
Let’s not forget the old
saying “behind every great man is a great woman”, never more true than with Sue.
She has been by his side for more than thirty years, well almost, except for the
time Roger got home from a ”do” – with one or two sherbets on board – before he
realised he had left Sue behind........... Sue we love you to pieces and you
deserve a very, very special medal.
Let’s not forget the mischief this pair get up to..........
Roger’s first duty – looking very resplendent - was on the
7th of November
ALL IN ALL WE ARE BOTH VERY PROUD OF YOU