How Do You Get To Be A Beefeater?

By Emma Finamore Last edited 76 months ago
How Do You Get To Be A Beefeater?

Beefeaters (or Yeoman Warders, to give them their proper name) aren't just a great selfie opportunity for eager tourists. They've been guarding the Tower of London since the 15th century. We found out exactly what it takes to get your hands on one of those snazzy jackets.

We need YOU. If you fulfil a very specific set of requirements. © Historic Royal Palaces.

What do you need on your CV?

Luckily for the Crown Jewels, those applying for Beefeater jobs must meet high standards.

In order to qualify as a Yeoman Warder any candidate must have served for at least 22 years in the armed forces, be a former warrant officer or senior non commissioned, plus hold the Long Service and Good Conduct medal. So that's most of us mere mortals already out of the running then.

You don't have to be a monarchist to work here but it helps... the Queen visits the Tower in 1983. © Historic Royal Palaces.

Wannabe Beefeaters needn't apply as soon as they've left the military, and in fact, other work experience can also be useful. Today's Yeoman Warders come from a broad range of career backgrounds on top of their forces service. Those eligible to apply should do so via the Historic Royal Palaces website.

An interest in history and royal genealogy is advantageous (for obvious reasons) and as Beefeaters work at a London icon — and one of the UK’s most famous landmarks — it's no good being camera shy.

Lawrence Watts of Lewisham is one of the latest applicants to land a job as a Beefeater. © Historic Royal Palaces.

Do you have to be a white male?


Today, the Tower is especially interested in diversifying its workforce; it took until 2006 to appoint the first female Yeoman Warder. A recent job vacancy says: "We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates as these groups are currently under represented in our workforce."

You've got to be able to keep the toughest of crowds entertained. © Historic Royal Palaces.

What does a Beefeater interview look like?

Sadly, no beef-eating contests are involved.

There is a briefing day for the first round of applicants, then a second interview to select the right person/people for the role.

The Tower looks for good communicators who can bring the history and stories of the place to life, and those who enjoy meeting new people every day; an essential part of the role is giving famous Yeoman Warder tours. The ability to spin a good yarn, then, is essential.

Security is one of 37 Beefeater duties. © Historic Royal Palaces.

What does a Beefeater actually do?

Plenty. Each Yeoman Warder must learn "the story" — covering over 900 years of the Tower's history — word-for-word, by heart within six months of passing their probation and being sworn in.

There are a total of 37 duties for the Beefeaters, including security, welcoming visitors to the Tower and various ceremonial duties (such as the Ceremony of the Keys).

Note the lodgings in the background. The Beefeaters also have their own pub. © Historic Royal Palaces.

A castle with council tax

Yeoman Warders have been the guarding of the Tower of London and all things within it for a long time; they can trace their ancestry, at least indirectly, to the garrisons who've manned the Tower of London since the reign of William the Conqueror. Most famously they have been responsible for the supervision and care of state prisoners.

As such, they are central to life at the Tower, and live with their families live in accommodation inside the fortress, paying council tax and a percentage of their salary as rent. It's not flash city living: some of the lodgings date back to the 13th century.

But how many Londoners can say they've got a riverside pad overlooking Tower Bridge?

Last Updated 31 May 2017