HNLMS Johan de Witt to participate in Constable’s Dues ceremony at the Tower of London

HNLMS Johan de Witt to participate in Constable’s Dues ceremony at the Tower of London

Ceremony of the Constable's Dues in April 2015

Monday 14 September 2015 at 12.30
Tower of London, Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB
Media welcome; RSVP essential

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

For further information or for media accreditation, please contact Jocelyn Murdoch in the Historic Royal Palaces press office on 020 3166 6166 or email 

Tower of London images can also be viewed and downloaded immediately, free of charge for editorial purposes, by registering on the website

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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