Bob's proud to protect the crown jewels
16:30 04 September 2007
PROTECTING the crown jewels is not something many people can claim to have responsibility for.
But Bob Loughlin, from Alderton, near Woodbridge, is today tasked with doing just that, after being selected to become one of five new Beefeaters to start at the Tower of London.
Mr Loughlin, of Mill Hoo, served in the Royal Air Force for 35 years before becoming a Yeoman Warder in April this year.
All five new recruits, including Moira Cameron, the first ever female beefeater in the guards' 522-year history, came together for the first time yesterday .
Mr Loughlin, 52, was chief of air staff warrant officer with the RAF at Whitehall, before undertaking the three-year application process.
He is now living in the Tower with his wife, Diana, who is a warden in the tower's oldest part, The White Tower.
He plans to remain as a Beefeater until he retires at 65.
Mr Loughlin said: “I had been made chief of air staff warrant officer and that is the highest you can go so I thought what else am I going to do?
“I knew a couple of guys who were Yeoman Warders and always had it in my mind as a plan. It felt it was right for me.
“It means I'm still serving my country, still in a uniform, and protecting Her Majesty.”
The father-of-three and grandfather-of-one has been posted all over the world as part of his job with the armed forces, including a stint in Iraq.
In 2001 he was awarded an MBE by the queen for his services in Afghanistan.
He was posted to RAF Bawdsey in Suffolk in 1984 and it was there that he met wife Diana and where they set up home.
The role of a Yeoman Warder is mostly ceremonial, with responsibilities to attend various state and charity functions.
They also perform the nightly Ceremony of the Keys, have responsibility for the tower's ravens and guide thousands of tourists around each day.
Mr Loughlin added: “There is a lot of history to learn but I am really happy to be here. It is a very unique position to be in. I've done my fair share of wars and operations.
“Living in the tower is like a small village. There is a doctor and chapel and you get to know the other families around you.
“The guys are all ex-military so all have this military ethos. We are all very proud to serve.”
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To be a Beefeater, applicants must have carried out at least 22 years of military service and hold a high rank.
Beefeaters, known by their preferred title of Yeoman Warders, date back to 1485 and the reign of Henry VII when their duty was to guard the prisoners and attend the gates.
Their nickname is likely to have referred to the daily ration of meat they received.
There are 35 Yeoman Warders at the tower as well as the Chief Yeoman Warder and Yeoman Gaoler.
Women have never been excluded from the position. However, the requirement of 22 years' continuous service has meant it is only recently that those with families, who can now count maternity leave as part of their service, are notching up as many years as the men, according to the Historic Royal Palaces charity.
New Yeoman Warders are sworn in on Tower Green after the tower has closed to the public with an oath of allegiance dating back to 1337.