Beefeaters at the Tower of London are reportedly facing redundancies for the first time in 500 years due to the impact of coronavirus on tourism in the UK.
John Barnes, head of the Historic Royal Palace (HRP) charity which runs the Tower, said they simply had ‘no choice’ but to reduce their payroll costs. He added: ‘We are heartbroken that it has come to this.’
The 37 Yeoman Warders, who guard the Crown Jewels, are military veterans with at least 22 years’ service and live inside the Tower with their families. The site only reopened for the first time this month after closing amid the pandemic.
At least two Beefeaters are said to have taken voluntary redundancies but HRP has warned compulsory redundancies will be enforced.
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An insider told The Sun it is an ‘unprecedented situation’. They continued: ‘The Yeoman Warders are valued staff and we have been forced into this position out of circumstance rather than choice.
‘Should any Yeoman Warders be made redundant, we will put measures in place to ensure they have a smooth transition out of the Tower and have the necessary notice periods.’
The Tower is now open again to visitors with some changes in place, such as hand sanitiser dispensers and one-way routes throughout.
Tourists wanting a photograph with a Beefeater will also have to do so while standing two metres away.
Last year 3,000,000 people visited the Tower, but now it can welcome less than 1,000 guests each day due to social distancing rules.
Prior to reopening, Chief Yeoman Warder Pete McGowran described how ‘excited’ they were to have visitors on the site once more.
He continued: ‘I can’t wait, over three months now, nearly four months without visitors is novel at first, having the place to ourselves, but after a week you want to see the crowds again.’
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