Coronavirus sees British guards facing job cuts at Tower of London

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Despite having reopened on July 10, the Tower of London will place some of its guards under redundancy, Historic Royal Palaces confirmed to the Daily Mail.

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Layoffs are likely, Historical Royal Palaces said, which would be the first job cuts for the guards since they were installed in 1485 under King Henry VII, according to the Associated Press.

“We are heartbroken that it has come to this,” James Barnes, the head of Historic Royal Palaces, told the Mail. “We simply have no choice but to reduce our payroll costs.”

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The guards, also known as Yeoman Warders or Beefeaters, have not been allowed to hold tours since the tower has reopened, according to a press release issued on its reopening day. However, they have been available to answer questions from visitors.

The Tower of London’s operator, Historic Royal Palaces, is an independent charity that looks after the famous 12-acre castle in addition to the Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, Banqueting House and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens.

From the coronavirus shutdowns, the charity has experienced a “shortfall” of around $124 million since it is “dependent on visitor income.”

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This exorbitant loss is likely to be the reason for the Tower of London’s tightening budget.

A guard stands watch at the Tower of London outside Waterloo Barracks, where the Crown Jewels are housed.

The Historic Royal Palaces employs 37 Yeoman Warders and salaries are around $37,977.06 when converted from British pounds, according to a report from MyLondon, a local news website for Londoners. The guards are housed in the Tower of London, however, they are not exempt from paying rent or council tax.

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Keeping up with bills might be difficult for some considering the Tower of London closed its doors eight days after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. The historical landmark remained shuttered for nearly four months.

Prior to the pandemic, the Historic Royal Palaces welcomed more than five billion visits to its palaces and gardens between 2018 and 2019, which surpassed the organization’s visitor target as well as its 2017 and 2018 record by 6 percent, according to the most current annual report.

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Around $87.6 million was raised through admission income between 2018 and 2019 while around $36.7 million was raised from retail, functions and events, licensing and rent, catering and sponsorship. Additionally, the Historic Royal Palaces received around $8.2 million from grants and donations.

Government records from the U.K. Office for Budget Responsibility estimates the country will lose anywhere between $377 billion and $495.2 billion from the coronavirus lockdowns.

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