Thursday, 30 June 2011
Yeoman Warder at Tower Of London
Yeoman Warder Bill Callaghan
A Beefeater has become an internet hit after his politically incorrect jokes about the elderly and the French were posted on YouTube. Footage of Yeoman Warder Bill Callaghan giving his version of the history of the Tower of London has been seen by more than a million people. During a tour Mr Callaghan mocks his colleagues and tourists and tells children that Richard III will get them at bedtime.
A little bit of background on the guy, his name is Bill Callaghan and he is Irish. In addition to his job as a yeoman warder, he is also a life boatman for the RNLI, and in 2009 raised several thousand pounds for the charity by travelling the length of the River Thames with a friend, in a tandem kayak. (Over 200miles)
The video, made by a visitor, shows the former Sergeant Major asking elderly people on his tour to hurry up because they might not have long left to live. To roars of laughter, he says: "I don't care if you are limping. Catch up. Old people! It is an amazing fact that the elderly just do not realise how little time they may have left."
In the 12-minute clip Mr Callaghan states that the majority of the Yeoman Warders, the Queen's personal bodyguard, are ex-Army like him. "We do have four from the Royal Air Force, no one talks to them, and we also have two Royal Marines and these are instantly identifiable because they are usually holding hands," he adds.
He goes on to say that many tourists would be disappointed that he was not wearing the Beefeater ceremonial uniform of white ruffle, red and gold tunic and tights. "We only wear that in the presence of Her Majesty because she likes it," he says. "If you want men in skirts; Scotland. Although you can get that kind of action in Soho. I'm sure the Royal Marines will be happy to tell you where."
Moving onto the subject of Traitor's Gate, he jokes: "Mel Gibson should have been brought through these gates and given a really hefty slap over the colossally inaccurate comedy film Braveheart." Callaghan also tells a group of tourists: "History is nearly always written by the people who win. This explains all the empty pages in the French history books."
The footage of Mr Callaghan has earned him praise from hundreds of YouTube viewers. One said: "Brilliant, informative, entertaining, unique! Respect for his handling of the group - they will remember him for years and a lot more of his imparted detail as a result of his irreverent humour."
Tower of London spokeswoman Katrina Whenham said Mr Callaghan, who is on sick leave, had been spoken to but was not in trouble. She said: "He admitted he may have been slightly more sarcastic than usual on that particular tour ... he said that it was the last one of a long day. But Bill is a fantastic story-teller with his own unique interpretation of events at the Tower."
The Beefeater's top quips
On the film Braveheart: "Never a day goes by without some demented Scot, I'm not saying you're all demented, just the ones I meet, demanding to know 'Where did you keep William Wallace? He was my father, check out my blue face and the family resemblance'. That's just the women."
After telling how little Princes Edward V and his brother Richard were suffocated in their beds and buried beneath a stairwell: "Now I'd like you children, especially you young children, to think about that at bedtime. Your mummies and daddies are going to tell you that was all a long time ago and that's true.
They're going to tell you there are no more bad men. That's a lie. There are bad men, then there are very, very bad men. They're not always out there though, sometimes they're under your bed. They wait for you to go to sleep and that's when they strike. Sweet dreams kids."
As he prepares to take the visitors through the Bloody Gate at the Tower: "We are about to charge through it. Charge is a military term. It means to move rapidly to engage in eager combat with an enemy. So let's not have the Italians at the front."