Last weekend, one of the first things Evan and I did with my parents was go to the Tower of London. Evan had been on a previous trip to London and loved the tour, so we dutifully got into a group with a ton of other tourists and had a fantastically flamboyant Beefeater (aka yeoman warder, or maybe gentleman warder, since they seemed to use the term interchangeably) show us around.
He told us about beheadings, kings, queens, wars and prisoners, all with a bit of a smirk and and a wink. It was jokey and very scripted, but he put in an emphatic performance. The only time I had any complaints was when there were helicopters overhead and I couldn’t hear him for a few minutes. The tour also left us with more questions than it answered, and the guide didn’t go off script to take questions. I feel like I should do some reading.
After the tour was over, we had some time to explore the parts of the tower that weren’t on the Beefeater path. We checked out the crown jewels — very impressive and sparkly, of course. Then we saw the White Tower, the oldest of the complex’s buildings, which house an armory exhibit with lots of gun, armor and statues of horses. We also saw a mini changing of the guards in front of the crown jewels, which disrupted a “historical reenactment,” which, like the tour, was more drama than history, but looked like fun. We also saw the ravens, the tower bridge, prisoners’ cells and jewel-less crowns. Interesting fact of the day: The royal family can’t afford to buy all its own jewels, especially diamonds, so they often rent.