General Sir Nicholas Houghton announced as next Constable of the Tower of London

General Sir Nicholas Houghton announced as next Constable of the Tower of London

7 March 2016

Number 10 Downing Street confirmed on 7 March 2016 that HM the Queen has approved the appointment of the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton GCB CBE ADC Gen, as the 160th Constable of the Tower of London, from summer 2016.

The Constable is the most senior appointment at the Tower, which is a royal palace and fortress as well as the most visited paid-for heritage attraction in the UK. General Sir Nicholas will be the Queen’s representative within the Tower of London and its formal custodian.

Since 1784 the Constable has always been a senior military officer. Today, the role of Constable is conferred upon retired Generals with distinguished service and is expected to be for a period of five years.

General Sir Nicholas will be installed formally as Constable in a ceremony to be held at the Tower of London on 5 October 2016 and will succeed the current incumbent General the Lord Richard Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, whose appointment expires on 31 July 2016. The installation of a new Constable takes place within the Tower in a traditional ceremony and involves the Lord Chamberlain, as the monarch's representative, handing the Tower's golden keys to the Constable, as a symbol of his custodianship.



Notes to editors

For further information on the Tower of London or the role of Constable, please contact Cat Steventon in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office, Tel: 020 3166 6166, E-mail:


The Constable of the Tower of acts as a Trustee of both Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that runs the Tower of London and the five other unoccupied palaces, and the Royal Armouries, the guardian of the national collection of arms and armour which has one of its four bases within the Tower. In addition to formal Trustee meetings, the Constable attends ceremonial and social events at the Tower and chairs bi-annual meetings of the Constable’s Fund and Choral Foundation, non-public charitable trusts. The Constable is also required to be present when a member of the Royal Family or a Cabinet Minister visits the Tower of London.

William the Conqueror appointed the first Constable, Geoffrey de Mandeville, in the eleventh century. Recent holders of the position are:

General the Lord Dannatt      August 2009 – July 2016 
General Sir Roger WHEELER  August 2001 – July 2009
Lord INGE        August 1996 – July 2001
Sir John STANIER     August 1990 – July 1996   
Sir Roland GIBBS    August 1985 – July 1990         
Sir Peter HUNT          June 1980 – July 1985


As well as being one of the most honourable positions in the Crown's service, the Constable of the Tower was once one of the most profitable. Perks of the job included any horses, oxen or pigs and sheep that fell off London Bridge and every ship that came upstream to the city had to moor at Tower Wharf to unload a portion of its cargo for the Constable - these included oysters, mussels, cockles, rushes and wine. This tradition is still upheld at the Ceremony of the Constable's Dues every year when one large Royal Navy ship that visits the Port of London delivers a barrel of rum to the Constable on Tower Green.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit

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