Secret Life of the Tower of London’s Chief Guard
On the eve of his retirement, the foremost symbol of jolly old England recalls decades spent sleeping in a former prison cell while watching over Her Majesty’s ancient fortress.
Photos by Peter Crabtree
In the muffled quiet of a medieval chamber, Alan Kingshott threads his five-foot-eight-inch frame between the cluttered desks. He’s solidly built, and at 64, still twitchy with energy. Here, behind a heavy oak door, away from the buzz of eager tourists, Kingshott is content to let his guard down.
“I can’t stand history, hate it with vengeance,” he confesses in a deep, velvet voice. It’s an unexpected grouse from a man sporting a dark blue and scarlet Tudor uniform and a Beefeater’s cloche hat.
For decades, the Chief Yeoman Warder, lead Beefeater at the Tower of London, has captivated thousands with fiery tales of this legendary fortress by the River Thames. “I’m a storyteller, not an historian,” Kingshott says lifting a straggly brow and offering up his best Cheshire cat grin. “Maybe even a bit of an actor.”