November 2, 2009 / 12:48 PM / in 8 years

Beefeaters "harassed" lone female Tower guard

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Two guardians of Britain’s historic Tower of London have been suspended after a female colleague, the first woman warden in their 524-year history, accused them of harassment.

The Tower’s 34 Yeoman Warders, commonly known as Beefeaters -- whose ceremonial dress is a distinctive scarlet and gold tunic, white ruff, red stockings and black patent shoes -- appointed Moira Cameron to their ranks in 2007.

Cameron, 44, who beat five men to secure the coveted position, has had her uniform defaced and nasty notes left in her locker, newspapers reported, while one suspect has been cautioned by police for defacing Cameron’s entry in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

“We can confirm that three Yeoman Warders are under investigation in response to allegations of harassment; two have been suspended,” the Tower of London said in a statement.

Scotland Yard said a 56-year-old man had been cautioned over the matter last month under the Communications Act.

“The matter related to inappropriate use of the Internet,” a spokesman added.

Beefeaters, believed to have earned their nickname from their daily ration of meat, date from 1485 when King Henry VII formed a bodyguard.

To be eligible to join their ranks, candidates must have a minimum of 22 years’ service in Britain’s armed forces and have earned medals for long service and good conduct.

Cameron, who is from Argyll in the west of Scotland, joined the army in June 1985.

The Tower said an internal investigation had begun to see whether her allegations have any foundation and should conclude within two to three weeks.”

The Tower of London was first built in 1078 by William the Conqueror. Its primary functions were as a fortress, royal palace and a prison, but it has served as a place of execution, an armory, a treasury, a zoo, a mint and -- since 1303 -- the home of the Crown Jewels.

Editing by Steve Addison

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