HNLMS Johan de Witt to participate in Constable’s Dues ceremony at the Tower of London
On 14 September, Dutch naval ship HNLMS Johan de Witt will take part in the unique and colourful Ceremony of the Constable’s Dues at the Tower of London. Continuing centuries of tradition, the shore party will present a barrel of wine to the General the Lord Dannatt, the Constable of the Tower accompanied by a colourful musical procession.
This annual event dates back to the 14th century when kings believed it was their right to extract tolls from vessels entering London. The Constable of the Tower collected these ‘Dues’ on the King’s behalf before any ship could continue down the Thames. Nowadays the tolls are ceremonially presented in the form of barrels of rum, wine and even oysters, cockles and mussels!
HNLMS Johan de Witt entered service for the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2006 and is named after the Dutch politician, who is credited with bringing about a ‘Golden Century’ in The Netherlands and helping to establish the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. As a Landing Platform Dock, the ship can be used for crisis-response operations, natural disasters and evacuations. It has previously been deployed during the European counter piracy mission Atalanta and in counter drugs operations.
Captain René Luyckx will lead his crew from the ship’s berth at Greenwich to the Tower’s West Gate, where they will be challenged for entry to the Tower of London by the Yeoman Gaoler, armed with his infamous axe. The captain and his shore party will then march through the Tower, accompanied by Yeoman Warders (commonly known as ‘Beefeaters’) in red and gold State Dress and a Corps of Drums, to deliver the barrel of wine to the Tower’s Constable on Tower Green. The music for this year’s ceremony is provided by the Dutch Marine Band.
After the parade, the Constable will host a reception at the Banqueting Suite of the New Armouries and sample the contents!
Notes to Editors
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