March 21 – The Queen’s Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard

Gentlemen! Which would you choose – red tights or red stockings and suspenders? This is just one of the decisions to be made by those who are entitled to stand nearest to the monarch on state occasions, the Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard. Shaun McCormack gave The Friends of The Museum of Somerset most interesting insights into life behind the scenes as a Yeoman of the Guard as he explained the history of the Yeomen and their distinctive uniform which dates from Tudor times.

Apart from guarding the monarch, the Yeomen were responsible for making the king’s bed and even today there is one Yeoman Bed Goer and one Yeoman Bed Hanger in each of the three divisions. The Goer had to go and find fresh straw for the bedding whilst the Hanger was responsible for stuffing the mattress and hanging it up – to stop others using it and to encourage the wildlife to drop out of it!

The Yeomen’s most famous duty is to ceremonially search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster prior to the State Opening of Parliament, a tradition that dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament. In modern times officers from the Metropolitan Police carry out a more sophisticated additional search!