Severely reduced visitor numbers over the last few months has put the Beefeaters’ jobs in jeopardy.
Though the UK lockdown may have been relaxed significantly, the fallout from three and a half months spent mostly indoors is still being felt across the country. Sadly, it seems as if some iconic Londoners are set to suffer, as the Tower of London’s Beefeaters are now facing redundancies as a result of a fall in visitor numbers and revenue this year.
It takes a fair chunk of money to run London’s historic sites, and Historic Royal Palaces – the charity which oversees the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, amongst others – have seen a crippling hit to their finances as a result of the pandemic, with a £95 million shortfall forecast this year. Their six UK sites were closed for almost four months, a huge gap in revenue which will prove extremely difficult to make up, especially with visitor numbers (which account for 80% of the charity’s income) remaining low. As a self-funding charity, they’re not in a position to benefit from government help, either.
In a statement, John Barnes, chief executive of Historic Royal Palaces, said “We are heartbroken it has come to this […] We have taken every possible measure to secure our financial position, but we need to do more to survive in the long term. We simply have no choice but to reduce our payroll costs.” As the BBC reports, a voluntary redundancy scheme is now in place, and if that fails to save enough money, compulsory redundancies may follow.
Any job losses due to the pandemic are obviously devastating, but the prospect of losing any of London’s world-famous Beefeaters is especially sobering. The instantly-recognisable figures – Yeoman Warders, to give them their proper title – are all military veterans with at least twenty-two years service, and perform all sorts of duties at the Tower of London, from taking care of the ravens to giving tours. They’ve been a part of London’s history since 1485, but are now facing some of their toughest times yet – so if you do have any funds to spare, please consider donating to Historic Royal Palaces here, or taking a socially-distanced trip down to the Tower of London.
Also published on Medium.