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London for Ceremonial
Guard at the Tower

Guard at the Tower

Dates:Daily Time:9:00am The Ceremonial Opening
3:00pm The Word
10:00pm Ceremony of The Keys
Where:The Tower of London

Ceremony of the Keys

Every night, for about 700 years, the Yeoman Warders, often called Beefeaters, have performed a gate-closing ritual known as the Ceremony of The Keys at the Tower of London.

At exactly 21.52 the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower escorted by an armed Guard of four men comes out of the Byward Tower, dressed in red, carrying a candle lantern in one hand and the Queen’s Keys in the other hand.

After locking the gates, the Chief Yeoman Warder is challenged by a sentry bringing his rifle into the on-guard position. 

He allows him to pass after recognising the Chief Warder as the bearer of Queen Elizabeth's keys by saying 'Pass, Queen Elizabeth's keys, and all's well'.

The Chief Yeoman Warder and his escort are met by a Ceremonial Guard on the Broad Steps near the White Tower, which then presents arms. 

The Chief Warder concludes the ceremony by raising his Tudor bonnet and proclaiming 'God preserve Queen Elizabeth', to which all present reply 'Amen'.

The keys are then carried by the Chief Yeoman Warder to safekeeping, whilst the Last Post is sounded.

The ceremony has never been cancelled and only delayed once when during WWII a bomb knocked a couple of warders off their feet.

Between 40-50 visitors are admitted, under escort, to watch the Ceremony of The Keys each night at 21:30 precisely.Visitors are escorted to the exit at 22.05.

The Tower of London


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