The colourful ceremony saw General Sir Nicholas Houghton being handed the gold master-keys of the Tower by the Lord Chamberlain, The Earl Peel, on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen symbolising the Constable‘s responsibility for this royal palace. The Tower’s famous Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters) were also on parade in their scarlet and gold State Dress as well as General Sir Houghton’s previous regiment the 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment. Other troops on parade included the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, The Honourable Artillery Company, The Band of the Scots Guards and the State Trumpeters of the Life Guards.
The role of Constable is the most senior appointment at the Tower, acting as the monarch’s representative, and is one of the most ancient offices in England, dating back to within a few years of the Norman Conquest. In the past, this appointment has been held by eminent prelates of the Church, prominent politicians and distinguished soldiers.
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, pigs or 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 naval ship that visits the Port of London delivers a barrel of rum to the Constable on Tower Green.
Today the 5-year appointment is predominately a ceremonial role, but also includes becoming a trustee of both Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the Tower, and the Royal Armouries.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach GBE KCB ADC DL – Chief of the Defence Staff
Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC – Chief of the Naval Staff
General Sir Richard Barrons KCB, CBE, ADC Gen - Colonel Commandant of the Honourable Artillery Company
Mr Philip Jordan QPM - City Marshal, City of London
Mr Will Tuckley - Chief Executive, London Borough of Tower Hamlets Borough Council
Colonel the Honourable Mark Vincent MBE – Regimental Colonel of the Honourable Artillery Company and Master Gunner within the Tower 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
Images will be available shortly after the ceremony however if you have any queries or interview requests please contact Cat Steventon in the Historic Royal Palaces press office Catherine.Steventon@hrp.org.uk 0203 166 6302.