This week as the clock ticked by the 1000 days until the Olympics opens in Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Olympic Park in east London to inspect preparations for the 2012 Games. Her Majesty planted the first of four thousand trees on the park site and met workers involved in the project. She walked along a section of what will be the 100-meter track and went to the top of the stands to view the work on the main stadium. Unlike some countries leaders the Queen at a sprightly 83 did not use fashionable transport. Instead her majesty, who will be also be celebrating 60 years on the throne when the Olympics open, traveled to the top of the stadium in a builder’s lift, or as one official called it a “shabby cage”.
While the Queen made no complaints about the trip, there was plenty to “beef” about at one of her castles. Two Yeoman Warders or “Beef Eaters” from the Tower of London were suspended and a third is under investigation over charges of bullying Moira Cameron, who two years ago became the first female beefeater in the tower’s 1,000-year history.
The term Beefeater most comes from the original Wardens’ payment in rations that included beef, as well as mutton and veal. Feeding beef to elite troops to make them strong is good nutrition planning for one’s army. This may also be connected to the etymology of the word “beefy” meaning strong and large, since the general public would have been unable to afford beef as a regular part of their diet. Retiring as a Yeoman Warder and continuing to eat beef rations would have been seen as a generous reward in a society that may not otherwise have cared for their aging population.
Yeoman Warders began guarding the Tower of London in 1485; today there are 35 Yeomen Warders and one Chief Warder. All warders are retired from the Armed Forces of Commonwealth realms and must be former senior non-commissioned officers with at least 22 years of service.
The Tower of London said in a statement: “We can confirm that three Yeoman Warders are under investigation in response to allegations of harassment. Two have been suspended. We take such allegations very seriously and our formal harassment policy makes it clear that this is totally unacceptable.”
It said an investigation was already under way and should conclude within two to three weeks. “Meanwhile, the Tower of London is a close-knit community and, understandably, this is a difficult time for us all.”