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New Tower Constable says don't rain on my parade

PUBLISHED: 16:00 08 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:00 05 October 2010

The historic ceremony at The Tower

The historic ceremony at The Tower

By Dean Valler Picture by Joe Lord HEAVY rain did nothing to dampen spirits at a ceremony installing General Sir Richard Dannatt as the new Constable of the Tower of London last night.

The ex-head of the British Armed Forces has taken on one of the most

By Dean Valler

Picture by Joe Lord

HEAVY rain did nothing to dampen spirits at a ceremony installing General Sir Richard Dannatt as the new Constable of the Tower of London last night.

The ex-head of the British Armed Forces has taken on one of the most ancient offices in the country, dating back to the Norman Conquest and the reign of King William the Conqueror.

It is doubtful, though, that any of his predecessors had to brave similarly rain-sodden conditions for their ceremony as the heavens opened over Tower Green, inside the grounds.

Meanwhile a political storm was brewing as it emerged the Tories wanted the outspoken General who had demanded more troops in Afghanistan to act as a defence adviser with a seat in the House of Lords if they win the next election.

Kevan Collins, acting chief executive of Tower Hamlets Council, as a representative officer, helped to officially welcome Sir Richard to the post, alongside figures including Prince Michael of Kent, the Master Gunner within the Tower.

Community groups from the borough were also among 600 invited guests.

The 30-minute ceremony was largely for ceremonial purposes as the Constable officially took on the position on August 1 and his duties today mainly involve taking part in events and major functions within the Tower.

In years gone by the Constable was among the most powerful men in London, alongside the Monarchy.

Last night, amid pomp and circumstance, Sir Richard was handed the keys and custody of the Tower by the Lord Chamberlain.

In his role, Sir Richard, who led British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, may take possession of any horses, oxen or pigs and sheep that fall of London Bridge.

Another perk is the right to keep anything that falls into the moat surrounding the Tower.

And in years gone by every ship that travelled upstream to the city had to moor at Tower Wharf to unload a portion of its cargo for the Constable, including oysters, muscles and cockles.

Last night Sir Richard must have just been hoping for a break in the rain.

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