It's no Hardy pipe dream guarding the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London
PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:27 17 October 2019
© DavidJensen 2019
A Northumberland piper is the new boy on the block to guard the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels.
Beefeater Darren Hardy, a Coldstream Guardsman from Tyneside, is the 411th Yeoman Warder since records began.
The father-of-two takes on the iconic jewel of a role, traditionally known as beefeaters, after 23 years in the Band of the Coldstream Guards as a flutist and pipe player who performed at Changing the Guard and Trooping the Colour.
"I'm still in dreamland," Darren admits. "I would have laughed if you had told me when I enlisted in the Army as a young lad that in 23 years time I'd be living in a 1,000-year-old royal palace in London."
But it's no pipe dream for the Colour Sergeant piper, a self-confessed history lover. He has to learn the centuries-old story of The Tower word-for-word over the next few months, following the script to make the past come to life for tourists before being let lose to lead a tour himself.
Darren also has to be familiar with 21 daily duties, including the famous Ceremony of the Keys that has taken place for at least 700 years.
Beefeaters are descended from the ancient band of warders who guarded the gates and royal prisoners early in The Tower's history. Modern Yeoman Warders are members of the Queen's Bodyguard who are all former warrant officers from the Armed Forces with an honourable service record of at least 22 years.