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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 January 2007, 14:33 GMT
Female Beefeater to guard Tower
The Queen with the Yeomen of the Guard
The Beefeaters date back to 1485
The Tower of London has appointed a female Beefeater for the first time in its history.

The Yeoman Warder, who has not been named, will join the 35-strong guard in September after undergoing training.

She fought off competition from five other candidates, all male, and will replace a retiring Beefeater.

A successful candidate must have served a minimum of 22 years in the forces as well as boast a long service and good conduct medal.

Tour guide

Spokeswoman Natasha Wollard said: "There were six candidates for the vacancy, and she was the only female. She was awarded the job on merit.

"Because woman have been carving out careers in the forces... they are starting to come up. More women have got the criteria that they need."

The new Beefeater's scarlet livery uniform will be the same as her male colleagues' although it will be altered to fit her figure.

Her role will involve acting as a guide for tourists visiting the Tower, which is more than 900 years old.

Beefeaters have been guarding the Tower since 1485 - for 522 years.

Ceremonial dress

The Beefeater nickname of the Tower of London's Yeoman Warders is thought to derive from the daily ration of meat they received.

Their full title is Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary.

For state occasions they wear the well-known ceremonial dress of red and gold with red stockings, a white ruff and black patent shoes.

For everyday duties they wear dark blue trimmed with red.

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