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New coin honours ancient Tower of London ritual

PUBLISHED: 17:00 06 August 2019

The ceremony of the keys coin. Picture: Royal Mint/PA Wire

The ceremony of the keys coin. Picture: Royal Mint/PA Wire

A new coin is celebrating a Tower of London ritual that has taken place every evening for more than 650 years.

The Royal Mint's ceremony of the keys coin recognises part of the traditional "locking up" of the Tower of London, which houses the Crown Jewels among other objects.

The ritual has taken place since 1340, during Edward III's reign.

At 9.53pm each night the chief yeoman warder, dressed in his red watch coat and Tudor bonnet, emerges from the Byward Tower carrying a lantern and the Queen's Keys.

He makes his way to the archway of the Bloody Tower where an escort of soldiers from the military garrison awaits him.

They proceed to the outer gates of the Tower where the chief and the Tower's watchman secure the outer and inner gates.

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As the clock strikes 10pm, the chief takes two steps forward, raises his bonnet into the air and says: "God preserve Queen Elizabeth."

The guard answers: "Amen" and the Last Post is played on a bugle.

The keys are then returned to the Queen's House and the guard is dismissed - the Tower is secure for the evening.

Prices for the coin, available as part of the Tower of London series on the Royal Mint's website, range from £13 for a brilliant uncirculated £5 denomination version of the coin to £8,645 for a five ounce gold coin with a £10 denomination.

Nicola Howell, director of the consumer business at the Royal Mint, said: "The ceremony of the keys is a centuries-old ritual that takes place every evening at the Tower and we are delighted to be marking this tradition on a coin.

"The coin's design features the keys and lamp to represent the symbolic and practical elements of the ceremony as well as also featuring a special Tower mint mark that represents the relationship between the Tower of London and the Royal Mint."

Emma Saunders, head of retail business development at Historic Royal Palaces, said: "We are delighted with the ceremony of the keys coin, the final release in this Tower of London series.

"The stunning design perfectly honours one of the Tower's most unique and historic ceremonies."

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