Beefeaters at the Tower of London are facing redundancies for the first time in their 500-year history.
Cuts are being made to staffing levels at the Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) following a loss of revenue during the coronavirus lockdown.
It’s reported that two of the 37 Yeoman Warders, who are known as Beefeaters, have already taken voluntary redundancy.
Last month an HRP spokesman confirmed a voluntary redundancy scheme would be put in place and warned a compulsory one could follow.
HRP thinks this is the first time the Yeoman Warders, who guard the Crown Jewels, have been at risk of redundancy.
HRP chief executive John Barnes said: “Historic Royal Palaces is a self-funded charity. We depend on visitors for 80% of our income.
“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.
“We have taken every possible measure to secure our financial position, but we need to do more to survive in the long term.
“We simply have no choice but to reduce our payroll costs.”
He added: “We are heartbroken that it has come to this.”
He said he hoped Beefeaters would “continue to be part of the Tower’s story in the years to come”.
The Tower of London usually welcomes 3 million visitors every year, but has reopened with capacity to take fewer than 1,000 a day.
There are one-way routes and hand sanitising stations around the Tower, and those who want pictures with Beefeaters have to do so from two metres away.
The Royal Collection Trust, which manages residences like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, is also facing a huge loss of revenue this year because of the lockdown.
Some of the palaces will be able to reopen to visitors, but the trust has already confirmed a voluntary redundancy scheme, open to 650 staff.