Tourist Attractions

The Ceremony of the Keys, Tower of London


A couple of weeks ago I was very lucky to attend the nightly ceremony of the keys at the Tower of London thanks to my friend Jen. Her original +1 couldn’t make it and I was more than happy to be second choice. We started our evening with a cinema trip to see A Royal Night Out which while fun was a bit farfetched but made a great start to our own royal night out.

So what exactly is the ceremony of the keys you are probably asking? Well, the ceremony of the keys is the traditional locking up of the Tower of London and has taken place on each and every night, without fail, for at least 700 years. The importance of securing this fortress for the night is still very relevant because, although the Monarch no longer resides at this royal palace, the Crown Jewels and many other valuables still do. Tickets to the ceremony are free of charge (I think there may be a £1 booking fee per order) but are booked up many months in advance – currently the next available date is the 3rd January!

You can read more about the actual ceremony here but it really doesn’t compare to being there. Our warder was the only female currently situated at the tower (Did you know that families actually live in the Tower of London?! I didn’t and am still absolutely blown away by this fact every day – how do they get pizza delivered?) and while she was quite clearly very serious about her job had a great sense of humour and kept us all entertained as well as informed on that cold night. I loved the little snippet that the ceremony had only ran late once in its history when a bomb landed inside the castle grounds during a second world war air-raid. There is a letter from the Officer of the Guard apologising to the king and a response advising that he was not to be punished as it was due to enemy attack.

There is absolutely no filming or photography allowed during the ceremony and I for one was quite grateful for this as it gave me the opportunity to switch off and enjoy the historical ceremony taking place in front of me instead of watching it through a sea of iPhone screens. I’m still yet to visit the Tower of London during the day and this made me more intrigued having seen inside a little bit.

6 thoughts on “The Ceremony of the Keys, Tower of London

  1. Isn’t it just eerie?
    (The night we went a pizza was actually delivered – the guys who ordered it just collected it via the front gate :D)

  2. Great topic, I saw a tv programme about the key ceremony at the Tower some time ago and it is fascinating that is is still done today.

    x Dawn

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