Tower of London Beefeaters suspended for
Yeoman Warder Moira Cameron, left, poses with male
colleagues, at the Tower of London, Monday …
LONDON – Women faced their share of trouble at the Tower of London, including three queens
who were beheaded there.
But treachery has long been considered a thing of the past at the notorious 11th century fortress.
At least until now.
If charges made Monday are true, the Tower — a popular tourist attraction and home to Britain's
Crown Jewels — will add bullying to the list of foul deeds committed there. The victim: the first
woman selected to join the all-male ranks of the Tower's yeoman warders, popularly known as
Moira Cameron — a veteran of long military service — was named a warder at the Tower two
years ago. Hers was supposed to be a happy story about how a bastion of male supremacy could
become a place where women, too, could serve queen and country.
On Monday, embarrassed Tower officials conceded that Cameron had apparently been subjected
to a campaign of bullying and harassment conducted by some of her resentful male colleagues.
They said two male warders have been suspended and a third is under investigation for
suspected harassment of Cameron.
A statement released by the Tower of London said harassment among its staff was "totally
unacceptable" and that an internal investigation started last week as soon as the allegations were
The bullying allegations are an unpleasant wrinkle in what had been a generally popular move to
bring women into traditionally male military roles.
The 35 warders, all ex-military personnel, guide visitors around the tourist attraction, which
houses numerous items of incalculable historic value.
In the Tower's earliest days, warders were used to monitor and occasionally torture high profile
prisoners kept in the Tower, which was founded by King William I in 1066. Its history includes the
executions of queens Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, both wives of Henry VIII, and Lady
Jane Grey, known as "the nine days queen."
They are called Beefeaters, mostly because of the extra rations of meat they were given during
Their brightly colored Tudor-style uniforms are part of the picture-postcard London that often
enchants visitors from around the world. Cameron's introduction to the exclusive service went
relatively smoothly, as far as the public could discern, but some tensions were present right from
Cameron, with military experience both in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, said when her
appointment was announced that some of her colleagues resented her presence.
"I've had some comments," she said at the time. "I had one chap at the gate one day who said he
was completely and utterly against me doing the job."
Her reply was quick and piercing: "I said to him, 'I would like to thank you for dismissing my 22
years' service in her majesty's armed forces'."
But she seemed thrilled with her job, telling The Associated Press of the joys of giving historical
tours and describing the Tower as a wonderful place to work.
Simmering tensions were kept behind the fortress walls until Monday, when the Sun newspaper
reported that Cameron's uniform had been defaced and that "nasty" notes had been left in her
In addition, the newspaper said that Cameron's entry in the online encyclopedia known as
Wikipedia had been defaced as part of the campaign against her.
Tower spokeswoman Ruth Howlett said she could not confirm the details cited in the newspaper
report or elaborate on the reported harassment. She said the inquiry began after a staff member
complained and that Cameron was still on active duty.
Cameron was nowhere to be seen in the Tower grounds Monday. Her fellow Beefeaters went
about business as usually entertaining tourists with tales of treason and beheadings, while others
posed genially for photographs with families.
One Beefeater reacted warily when asked about the bullying reports, replying curtly that they
were not allowed to speak about the incident.
A lone soldier stood guard as usual outside the row of small houses home to the warders and
their families — described as a "close-knit community" by a Tower statement.
Scotland Yard confirmed Monday that a 56-year-old man had been reprimanded about improper
use of the Internet. Details were not disclosed, but it was believed this man is the third warder
being investigated for alleged harassment.
The revelations did not appear to bother visitors to the Tower.
"There's always teasing in the army," said Miles Gurrin, a frequent visitor. "The army is known for
this sort of thing. It's not as if she is an outsider. She served in the army for 22 years, so she is
one of them."