Documentary going behind the scenes at the Tower of London and exploring its 900 years of history.
On Thursday 08 September, news arrives that will change the Tower – and the nation’s – history forever. The death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is announced after seventy years on the throne. It is a time of deep sadness for the Tower staff and for the Yeoman Warders, some of whom have met the Queen in their role as royal bodyguard. As a Royal Palace, with special links to the Royal Household, the Tower enters a two-week official period of mourning.
The Tower of London is no stranger to change – it has seen 42 monarchs come and go, and a strict protocol immediately kicks into action. The Union Standard flag is put at half mast, and the fortress is the first place in the country to mark the Queen’s passing with a special gun salute, 96 rounds for the 96 years of her life. After the salute, the Tower must ready itself to welcome the new King with a proclamation around its walls. The person in charge of organising this is Tower Operations Manager James Murly Gotto. The last proclamation was in 1952 when Elizabeth II became Queen seventy years ago, so James delves into the Tower archives to research how the fortress relayed the news. As one of the earliest places in the country to announce the new King Charles III, James is aware that he and everyone else at the Tower are part of living history.
Chief Curator Tracy Borman looks at the history behind the Queen’s lying in state and previous public mourning of monarchs, and the Tower staff reflect on their memories of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in a year like no other.
Down in the moat, Superbloom – the vast living floral installation planted to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee – is attracting hundreds of visitors, and has inspired keen gardener Yeoman Warder Spike Abbott who’s picked up some inspiration for his own little garden inside the Tower. Spike is part of a long tradition of Tower gardeners – the famous adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh also created a garden when he was imprisoned here for over a decade.
Meanwhile Chief Yeoman Warder Pete McGowran and his second in command Yeoman Gaoler Rob Fuller are planning a big retirement event for the most senior Tower official, the Constable of the Tower, General the Lord Nicholas Houghton. The post of Constable used to be one of the most powerful in the country, defending the city of London and being responsible for high profile prisoners locked up in the cells. These days the job is a ceremonial one – each Constable remains in post for five years, attends official engagements and lives at the Tower’s grandest address, the King’s House. As a result of the pandemic, Lord Houghton has been Constable for six years and the history of this extraordinary building has left a deep impression on him. Pete, Rob and the rest of their Beefeater and Tower colleagues organise a send-off to remember, complete with Royal Marines band.
Inside the Tower of London Series
You can find a full index and overview of Inside the Tower of London here.
Production & Filming Details
- Release Date: 01 December 2022.
- Rating: U.
- Running Time: 58 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.