Ceremony of the Keys | Tower of London

The Brainy One and I recently had the good fortune to be part of a private tour of the Tower of London, which ended with viewing the historic Ceremony of the Keys.


Footsteps echo in the darkness.  The sentry cries out, “Halt, who comes there?”  The Yeoman Warder replies, “The keys.”  “Whose keys?”  “Queen Elizabeth’s keys.”  “Pass then, all’s well.”        

Aside from the monarch’s name, this is the exact exchange that has been spoken for centuries and forms part of the traditional ‘locking up’ of the Tower of London.

Set amidst the mighty battlements of this ancient historic fortress, the Ceremony of the Keys is one of the oldest surviving enactments of its kind.  Although the monarch may no longer reside at the Tower, the Crown Jewels and many other invaluable objects still do, therefore its importance is still relevant today.

The ceremony of the keys is something I have wanted to see for years. Years ago, I knew someone in the RAF who had been part of the ceremony and had the official photos to prove it. I was so envious. Those of us of a certain age may remember the emotionally charged scenes in the final episode of Soldier Soldier (Series 4) when the Regiment performs the ceremony shortly after the death of one of their comrades.

Photography is not allowed at any point during the ceremony. Details of how to obtain tickets can be found here.

7 thoughts on “Ceremony of the Keys | Tower of London

  1. I love these old traditions and sincerely hope that they never die out – we are so lucky to have them. How lovely to have the opportunity to have a private tour and I’m pleased that photography is not allowed, by keeping it private it remains even more special.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh it gives me the chills to think that this continues on as it has for 100’s of years before. I like such traditions. I agree with Deb, I like that there is no photography allowed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s one of those things I wanted to see. I remember learning of it in school 60 years ago. Beyond my physical capabilities now even if I was fortunate enough to get there. I have envy LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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