Ward, Paul (2012) Beefeaters, British History and the Empire in Asia and Australasia since 1826. Britain and the World, 5 (2). pp. 240-258. ISSN 2043-8575

The Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London (colloquially known as ‘Beefeaters’) have been represented as a quintessential part of British history. Their distinctive Tudor costumes and their highly visible role at the Tower made them iconic symbols of Britishness. One would think that the Beefeater could only be seen in London yet the iconography of the Beefeater was widespread across the British Empire, including India, Hong Kong, Malaya, Australia and New Zealand. This essay explores the transmission of a symbol of Britishness, arguing that while the Beefeater was a global icon, it resonated most with those who desired a direct connection to Anglo-British history. The reception and consumption of the Beefeater differed substantially. In Australia and New Zealand, the Beefeater allowed ‘distant Britons’ to celebrate a nostalgic history shared with the old country, while elsewhere in the Empire and Commonwealth, the Beefeater was too historically obscure to hold resonance and often symbolised the commercialism associated with marketing alcohol. This essay explores the changing representations and meaning of the Beefeaters as an icon of Britishness across the rise and fall of the British Empire.

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