German naval ship to participate in Constable’s Dues ceremony
Friday 23 May 2014 at 12.00
Tower of London, Tower Hill, EC3
Media welcome; RSVP essential
On Friday (23rd May) German naval ship FGS NIEDERSACHSEN will take part in the colourful Ceremony of the Constable’s Dues at the Tower of London. This unique and traditional event dating back to the 14th century related to the Crown’s authority over the City of London; successive kings believed it was their right to extract tolls from vessels on the Thames. Past offerings have included barrels of rum, or oysters, mussels and cockles; this year, the Tower’s Constable, General the Lord Dannatt, will be presented with a barrel of wine. The German naval ship’s arrival marks the 300th anniversary of the start of the Royal Hanoverian dynasty in Britain. In advance of the ceremony, FGS NIEDERSACHSEN will salute the Tower with a gun salute on Wednesday 21 May, and the Tower will respond in kind. This is the first gun salute in honour of the Constable’s Dues in forty years.
Commander Kurt Leonards will be at the helm of the shipwhich will berth alongside the HMS Belfast. FGS NIEDERSACHSEN is the second ship of the F122 and came into service in the port of Wilhelmshaven on 15 October 1982. Originally designed for Cold War scenarios and specialising in anti-submarine action, the frigate currently takes on roles and responsibilities for NATO, the EU and the UN.
From HMS Belfast the ancient ritual will begin when the commander of the ship leads his crew to the Tower’s West Gate, where they will be challenged for entry to the Tower by the Yeoman Gaoler armed with his infamous axe. The captain and his shore party will then march through the Tower of London to Tower Green, 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 (representing the ‘Dues’) to the Tower’s Constable, General the Lord Dannatt.
Afterwards, the participants will retire to the Queen's House, one of the few original timber framed buildings remaining in the City following the Great Fire, to sample the contents.
Visitors to the Tower of London will be able to delight in the colour, noise and spectacle of this unique and long-standing ceremony. Following the ceremony a charity concert from the German Air Force band will take place in the Tower’s St Peter ad Vincula Chapel.
Notes to Editors:
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