LONDON (AP) — Some of the Tower of London’s iconic Beefeaters may soon be facing layoffs amid falling tourist numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Britain's Historic Royal Palaces confirmed that a voluntary redundancy plan had been introduced. It said staff had been told that cuts were likely among the 37 members of the body formally named the Yeoman Warders, who are known for their distinctive red and black regalia.
It is the first time the Beefeaters have faced cuts in a history that dates back to 1485 when Henry VII became the first Tudor king, the charity said.
“We depend on visitors for 80% of our income,” charity chief executive John Barnes said. “The closure of our six sites for almost four months has dealt a devastating blow to our finances, which we expect to continue for the rest of the financial year and to be compounded by the slow recovery of international tourism.’’
The Tower's Beefeaters offer tours and regale visitors with tales of intrigue and royal machinations from the history of the building that started off as a fortress in the 11th Century and served through most of its history as a prison.
The monument, where the Crown Jewels are kept, normally attracts 3 million visitors a year. It re-opened July 10 but can now welcome fewer than 1,000 people each day due to new pandemic safety measures.