Thursday, April 5, 2012

France and England on $98 a Day - London's Ceremony of the Keys

The United States has a lot going for it with abundant natural resources, an ingenious populace, and clever inventors who regularly change the way we live with new technology.

What it doesn't have is much pomp and circumstance. With only 235 years under our belt, we just can't compete with a country like England that's been studying Miss Manners for a thousand years or so.

And when it comes to ritual, the Brits brook no nonsense. They have ceremony down pat. If a ritual works well the first time, they see no need to ever change it.

Have you seen the commercial where the woman feels so wealthy with her new credit card that she tries to buy the Crown Jewels?   Hundreds of years before that woman ever thought of approaching the Beefeater in the Tower of London, a ceremony to secure Britain's wealth was born.

The Ceremony of the Keys is a fifteen-minute ritual that locks all the doors in the Tower. It's been enacted every night in exactly the same way with the exact same words following the exact same footsteps of the first Yeoman Warder for over seven hundred years!

And every night a few lucky people are invited to share in the securing of the jewels. David and I will be among them one night in early May.   We can't take photos, but I promise to tell you all about it in the blog.

Practicalities -

The tickets are free. All we had to do was send a request a couple months in advance with a self-addressed (stamps-enclosed) envelope. The only somewhat challenging part of the request process was acquiring the stamps needed for the return address. Obviously US stamps are not accepted by the British postal system, so we had to go to our post office to buy international stamps that the office in Britain exchanged for their British equivalent.

Here's some information about the ceremony and ticket procedure, and here is the official government website.

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